Immagini della pagina

and that his abuse of his liberty was perfectly foreseen from the beginning; I would then ask, How can we reconcile the certain fall of the whole system, and its inevitable everlasting ruin, with divine wifdom? Rather, would not this be a probable dictate, “ Either let not the system exist at all, or let there « be a reserve made of salvation out of its ruin.” To let justice alone reign, without mercy, is not good; and to suffer all men to perish through want of previous contrivance, on prevision of apoftacy, is not wise; and therefore such a state as the objection supposes was impossible. If there were no second Adam, the Lord from heaven, it would not have been worthy of either the goodness or wisdom of God to appoint a first Adam, who should fall as the representative of his posterity; nor consistent with the display of his equity and mercy that he should so interpose as to make him continue in the state in which he was first placed. As far, therefore, as the providence and government of God are concerned in the present state of things, we may safely say, " Whatever is, is RICHT.”

But that we may

$ 6. Seeing, then, that in the present plan alone does there appear any room left for an admixture of equity and mercy, we may see how well adapted it is, above every other supposed plan, for the full exercise of moral government. the better comprehend this admixture, proportion and order, in the various, wonderful steps of the divine government through the different dispensations of time, it may be

proper to remark,

I, That

1. That every exercise of equity, towards mankind, prejupposes a display of grace for its foundation. If equity be exercised towards a state of perfect rectitude, it presupposes the favour of existence, and the grace of preservation to the moment of trial. If towards men as imperfect, it presupposes forbearance, or mercy announced, with different degrees of explicitness, according to the different dispensations under which they live. Hence the awful glory of future judgment !

2. There is no situation, or degree of advance in the divine favour, in this life, that in its own nature excludes the consequent exercise of mere equity, whereby the creature is endangered, from any given moment. Hence the foundation of constant holy fear, and studious diligence in the way of duty. And hence the propriety of addressing the chief of faints in such language as this : Let him who thinketh he standeth take heed lejt he fall. Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire. -Wherefore,

3. While there is the exercise of equity in God, there is a foundation for man to fear ; and while there is the exercise of grace, there is room for hope. While the day of grace continues, despair is rebellicus ingratitude; and while God is an equitable Governor, to discard holy fear is irreverend prefumption. The trembling jailor is encouraged to believe for salvation, and the apostle Paul kept under his body, left he should lose his dependence on grace and be caft away. Thus the present plan,

which regards men as fallen, but not gone beyond the confines of hope while in this world; as the subjects of equity or grace according to the decisions of infinite wisdom ; is wonderfully well adapted for the fullest exercise of moral government,

$7. We now proceed to thew in what manner the divine Governor dealt with mankind after their deviation from rectitude, and consequent exposure to punishment. While man had not the least claim upon God, either to restore that life which was now lost, and is the well-being of the soul, or to suspend the consequence of immediate and permanent suffering; God was pleased in sovereign mercy, to announce the MEANS of salvation: And the Lord faid unto the serpent - I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her feed; it fall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.

Though I send forth the man from the garden of - Eden, to till the ground from whence he was " taken, I will not leave him without hope of re“ covered happiness. The woman shall have a

descendant, who shall prove a mighty deliverer “ from sin and misery, though he accomplish it in “ the way of suffering."

The truth and importance of this promise must be daily corroborated by the institution of worship, the expressed approbation of services, the pleasures of religious obedience, with occasional visible or audible manifestations of the divine glory. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, not only walked with God, but was an eminent prophet in his day. He an


[ocr errors]

nounced clearly the final judgment, with the different fate of saints and finners. “ Behold, said he, " the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his faints, “ to execute judgment upon all, and to convince “ all that are ungodly among them of all their

ungodly deeds which they have ungodly commit. “ ted, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly “ finners have spoken against him.”* After this favourite of heaven had lived holily, and faithfully exhorted his cotemporaries on the most important subjects, for about three hundred years, he was taken to glory in a miraculous way. And his translation was a standing monument of mercy to that and every subsequent age.

It should be here observed, that whatever intima. tions of grace, preccpts, or sanctions, were made during this period, they were intended for universal use. There seems to have been no bar put in the way of any from receiving the exhibited testimony as the foundation of faith, hope, and obedience. Mercy is proclaimed to man as guilty, depraved, and helpless; if he is found penitent, believing, and obedient, he is fafe; if otherwise, what was exhibited for life becomes the innocent occafion of feverer condemnation. It is no part of the equity of government to ensure compliance with the over

grace ; but if any obey, it is the effect of sovereign favour.

tures of

$ 8. Of Noah it is expressly said, that he found grace in the eyes of the Lord.t God had a favour to


* Jude 14, 15.

+ Gen, vi. 8.

him above all the inhabitants of the world beside ; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth, which was filled with violence. And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house in!o the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. After justice had cleared the earth of its rebellious inhabitants by the deluge, God's manifestation of grace to Noah and his family becomes, in effect, the origin of a new dispensation. And as the institution of sacrifices was a sign and seal of the former dispensation of mercy, so now, the covenant being rea newed, an additional seal is appended. “And God

spake unto Noah, and to his fons with him, “ saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant “ with you, and with your feed after “ God said, This is the token of the covenant - I “ do set my bow in the cloud.”+- I have had occasion before to remark on this passage; “ That “ the covenant or divine charter, first given to “ Noah, included the preceding; it was the same covenant with additional grants. - Left Noah “ should infer that the drowning of the world in 66 wrath disannulled the well known covenant, GOD

dislipates his fears, by saying, I will establish

my covenant.” I No former exhibition of mercy, or preceptive appointment, was repealed, but confirmed and augmented.

you, And

$9. When we come to the time of Abraham, the language of grace becomes more decisive, conspicuous, and rich. " I will make of thee, says

[ocr errors]

• Gen, vii. 1. + Gen. ix. 8-13.

Antipædob. Exam. Vol. I. Chap. iii. $ 20. p. 238.

« IndietroContinua »