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and this is the record : “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good leasure, which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one, all things in Christ; both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. And he worketh all things, after the council of his own will.” As a written Testament or will is supposed to express the disposition and intention of its author, in words least liable to misconstruction, I conceive that no remarks need be offered, to explain the above language. The same apostle has emphatically styled this, “the good and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” And what can be said to render it more explicit? As well might I attempt to increase the beauty of the rose, improve the hues of the rain-bow, or add to the splendor of the sun. But do I hear it asked with much seriousness ;Is not God a Sovereign 2 has he not a right to do as he will with his own? Be it admitted, and it will only prove that we ought to be satisfied with the divine declaration of what God is disposed to do, by the use of means infallibly appointed. In addition to what we have just adduced, listen for a moment to the Sovereign voice of Heaven. “Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth : for I am God and there is none else. The word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return ; that unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear, surely shall say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all peoÉ. a feast of fat things;–and he will destroy the ace of the covering cast over all people, and the vail spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory ; and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from off all faces ; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth : for the Lord hath spoken it.” Is there any thing in this sovereignty to which the benevolent heart can object 2 Who will not rejoice, to learn that we have a universal Sovereign, Father and Saviour 2 But when the glory of the incorruptible God, is changed into the image of a corrupt and cruel sovereign, we cannot wonder that liberal minds should shudder at the frightful representations of his sovereignty. O, how widely different, when in the light of revelation, a sovereign God is exhibited, an impartial, immutable Father * .
Who in the exercise of his reason, would be alarmed on receiving information that the benevolent Anthor of all things, the Friend and Father of our spirits, had a determinate purpose in given existence to intelligent beings, and that every thing is systematically arranged in the natural and moral worlds, with special reference to that purpose ? Would it not afford serious grounds for terrific apprehensions, were we assured that God's work was without system, and his determinations as fickle and variable as ours ? Assure me that I have a Father in heaven, whose disposition is good, as his attributes are perfect, and think you I will not rejoice and be grateful, that his determination, in regard to the final destination of man, is like Himsefl, eternal and unchangeable 2 - - -
2. The next primary principle of doctrine relates to the character of man—But on this point I shall speak with less freedom and confidence, than on many other parts of our general subject. For even the language of revelation is less definite or more difficult of application on this particular, than on many others. #. we admit that “the proper study of mankind is man; so much do we neglect this study, that each individual is an enigma to himself, and all around him equally enigmatical. I mean
that the actions of men are frequently at variance with their reason and sober judgment. How often is the conduct, a practical denial or refutation of the theory of one's profession? He admits maxims of morality and principles in religion, as the landmarks of his life and his hopes, and yet pursues a devious and eccentric course. These remarks are not only confirmed by daily observation and experience, but they are recorded in the sketches of human character, in the volume of revélation. So far as I have been acquainted with the writings of able, learned and pious men, there is no subject on which they have written more obscurely and unprofitably, than on the agency and accountability of man. Though they reason for a while, with much plausibility, they at length come to a point, which they must either evade, or declare it to be inscrutable. But to be brief upon a subject, which can be better learned by consulting our own hearts and consciences, than by examining the ingenious speculations of uninspired men, let our thoughts be directed to our own accountability. We shall find ourselves accountable to God for the proper use of the abilities, capacities and privileges which we possess; and, therefore, may presume that the same is also true of others. Capacity for obeying, as well as intellection to understand a requirement, seems to be indispensable to amenability. We might understand a command, which was perfectly arbitrary and unjust. A master might command his servant to alter the limitations of the ocean, and make its billows pause, short of the bounds, of which God said, “Thus far shalt thou come, and here shall thy proud wavés be stayed.” The sovereign might require his subjects to extinguish the stars and lessen the dimensions of the sun; but when there is no capacity to obey, as well as to understand, could they justly be punished for not doing as required? Were they tortured, under the pretence of their having refused to obey their sovereign, could you so pervert terms as to call it punishment or correction, for sing By this I would oppose, in a respectful manner, the notion advocated by some men, eminent for talents, acquirements and piety; the notion that man's total inability to obey God's law, is consistent with his infinite criminality for disobeying, Inability to to do a command, is always excusable, unless produced by one's own misconduct, under more favorable circumstances. We must omit, however, in this place, an examination of many curious and fanciful things which are published, concerning the injury we sustained by the sin of those “who erst in Eden sung;” and endeavour to impress the solemn truth upon all your hearts, that where much is given, much will be required; and the servant who knows his master's will and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. That man possesses no agency, and is under no amenability, which will operate to prevent the accomplishment of God's original purose, in giving him existence, is indisputable. his fact is rendered obvious from a variety of considerations. Taking a wide survey of the world, all men are sinners, none having exercised the talents which they possess, in undeviating obedience to the commands of God. The best of men are sinners, before santification and salvation through Christ. Was it not for the riches of divine mercy, no man could entertain any rational hopes of enjoying future life and immortality. Being weighed in the balance and found wanting, we will turn our attention to the last particulars under this proosition. 3. The mediatorial character of Jesus Christ. “For now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” But as God is an infinitely perfect Being, the Father of lights, without variableness or shadow of turning, the mediator was ordained to bring man into a state of reconciliation with his Maker. Hence we are told that, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” Jesus is the divine MEDIUM, through which Jehovah reveals his perfections to his o: In testimony of his Father's impartial benevolence, the mediator gave himself a ransome for all, and tasted death for every man. Therefore, we hold him forth in our ministry, as the universal Saviour of sinners. We repeat it, the Saviour of sinners; for some have affected to understand us as teaching, that some men would finally be happy, without being saved from their sins. But we discard that sentiment as heartily, as do others. It is matter of rejoicing that I have so favorable an opportunity of correcting, thus publickly, that rerehensible mistake. Let this be inscribed on the reastplate of every minister of truth, “He shall bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. His name shall be called Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” To accomplish the great work of salvation, Jesus officiates as the Restorer or Regenerator of the human family. “Not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy he saved us; by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Our conversation (or citizenship), is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Lord Jesus; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, by the working of his power, er, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.” And the apostle, in employing different lan- 3