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§ 5. The universal aspect of the christian revelation is so plain on the face of the New Testament, that it would be needless to enter on a formal proof of the fact. Though John the Baptist was confined in his ministrations to the jewish nation, being commissioned to call them, as the subjects of the Mosaic covenant, and to whom primarily and most directly the promises were made as the defcendants of Abraham, to the exercise of repentance and a thankful reception of the Messiah ; and though our Lord himself, for similar reasons, came only to “his own,” the “ loft sheep of the house “ of Israel,” when he had finished his redeeming work he speaks a different language from what he had done before: • And Jesus came, and spake « unto them, saying, “ All power is given unto " me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore «s and teach, or disciple, ALL NATIONS ;” or, as St. Mark expresses it, “ Go ye into all the world, “ and preach the gospel to every creature." St. Peter, for a time, hesitated, with respect to the universality of this commission, but he was, at length, sufficiently convinced, that the gospel look. ed upon every man, and made a gracious profer to him of life and salvation. God hath shewed me " that I should not call any man common or unl“ clean.”* Accordingly the apostles went forth in all directions, making no difference between Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and barbarians, preaching peace by Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
§ 6. If • See Atts x. throughout.
$ 6. If it be enquired, How can we reconcile this universal aspect, and orignal designation of the gospel, with matter of fact? If it was intended for all nations, how comes it to pass that so many nations are actually unacquainted with it? We reply; the partial manner in which the nations are evangelized is not owing to any rectoral restrictions, but to the fovereign distributions and arrangements of providence. Nor can any one, who understands the gospel commission, and has it in his power (cæt. par.) to propagate it where it is not, remain unre. proved in his own conscience while hindering or not forwarding its more extensive spread.
7. Coroll. To be unconcerned about the spread of the gospel among the heathen is truly sinful. How can such pray Thy kingdom come, without condemning themselves by the very petition they utter? Since the establishment of Christianity God does not work miracles for its propagation, but leaves it to the fame issue with other providential events ; and this is an argument why we should, with holy promptitude, improve every providential opportunity that offers to diffuse the favour of Christ, and the falutary streams of his gospel. Have not opulent merchants, statesmen, and sovereigns, much to answer for on this account? The poor sheep in the wilderness perish for want of pasture and of shepherds, while millions are lavished on pleasures and poslesions that perish in the using, and in the end involve their votaries in perdition, and fill them with the keenest remorse. May British influence lie no longer so criminally dormant! And when, at any time, missionaries are employed for this benevolent purpose, may they be men of God, whose hearts and lives are transcripts of the gospel of peace ! Then, how beautiful upon the mountains would be their feet, while moving from place to place to publish the glad tidings !
Of the RECTORAL INTENTION of the supreme .
§ 1. We must distinguish between the rectoral and the de:
cretive designs of God. $ 2. This diftin&tion essential to moral government. § 3. Further proved and illustrated. $ 4. When both designs coincide in the fame subject. $5. This further explained. $ 6. Corollary.
$ 1. E must distinguish, with care, between
the retoral and the decretive designs of God; which distinction is not to be considered as arbitrary, to serve a turn, but as founded on the very nature of moral government. That God has decretive designs, with respect to the universe he hath made ; the hypothetical result of the system now existing being foreknown, beheld by the infinite intellect in the divine all-sufficiency; and what otherwise could be but merely possible becoming by a settled purpose or decree certainly future ; the proof of this, must be referred to another place. We now proceed to shew, that the rectoral intention is, and necessarily must be, different from the decretive.
$ 2: Without such a difference of intention, moral government can have no existence. The only way to know any decretive intention is from the event ; whatever is found to be fast, as far as it could be
the object of a decree, we are obliged to conclude, . that it was decretively intended. Since he is the efficient cause of all created real entity, it is folly to enquire, concerning such an object, Whether God purposed its existence or not; for it is self-evident that without such a purpose it could no more exist than it could be Gon. He as assuredly decrees what he effects, as that he is wife; therefore, to controvert the decretive design of any event, is the fame as to question, Whether God be wise or not. But his retoral intention is to render all account. able beings obedient and happy. So far is the obe. dience and happiness of men intended, in every dispensation of religion, that nothing whatever prevents it but their own abused liberty. When mercies are moft freely and unreservedly offered, or the most equitable laws enacted, and both as much calculated as possible to render the subject obedient and happy; man would not be a free agent, and confequently would be no subject of moral government, if he had no power of frustrating the above mentioned rectoral intention. A power of fininng, or of being disobedient and consequently unhappy, is essential to moral agency; without this, man could be no more accountable than a brute. But if so, who sees not that the most unbounded benevolence, the most gracious promises, the wisest laws, and the most engaging mercies, (when a suitableness of difpofition is not ensured by sovereign grace, and which is by no means requisite to constitute the equity of moral government) may be frustrated, as to their native tendency, and their rectoral design of making the subject obedient and happy ?
$ 3. When