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ourselves laboriously to work, to find out something more by the employment of our own faculties. But our wishes are unbecoming;-—our dissatisfaction blamable,--and our labours vain. The doctrine, or fact, revealed, is true and useful; more useful than it would be if those others, which we wish for, had been revealed also. It is not all the truth respecting the subject,--but it is all which would be useful to us. therefore to receive it in this character, and entirely to acquiesce in the existing revelation as perfectly wise and good. Thus it is declared, that Christ is God, the true God, the mighty God, Jehovah, I am ; that he is Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Almighty, and Immutable; that he created all things visible and invisible; that he upholds all things ; that he governs all things; that he will judge the quick and the dead, and reward the righteous and the wicked; that all things are his possession and property; that he forgives the sins of men; and that he ought to be and is worshipped by angels and men, even as the Father is and ought to be honoured.
All these things are unquestionably and certainly true, and true in the obvious and popular sense of the expressions, as being written chiefly for those who cannot understand the expressions in any other sense, viz. the great body of mankind. At the same time, it is equally true and certain that Christ is in some respect or other distinct from the Father, because he says of himself 1, and to and of the Father thou and he ; because of the different appellations the Father and the Son; and because he is frequently styled the angel Jehovah, or Jehovah the messenger, and a messenger cannot exist unless sent by some other person. Concerning this vast and mysterious subject there are unquestionably many other things which God, if he had thought proper, might have revealed, which are true, important, and inseparably connected with these, but which are not yet revealed. Something concerning them and their relation to those which are revealed is naturally, perhaps necessarily, involved in the existing revelation, yet so obscurely, that we are not able to fasten on the unrevealed things with either knowledge or satisfaction. Some men, impatient of not knowing more concerning these subjects, have laboriously endeavoured to supply the deficiency by the fertility of their invention and the diligence of their labours; others, on the contrary, have, under the influence of the same dissatisfaction, determined that these revealed declarations are not true, or not true in the natural and proper sense of the expressions, and have therefore sedulously applied themselves to find out some other sense in which they might be true, according to their apprehensions. Both have, in my opinion, acted unhappily, and in a manner contrary to the prescription in the text, to true wisdom, and to the real interest and duty of man. That Christ is God, the true God, the mighty God, Jehovah, I am,-is true; because he who cannot deceive nor be deceived has said so.
For the same reason, it is true that he possesses all these attributes; that he has done and will do all these actions; and that he is therefore to be thus worshipped and honoured. At the same time, it is equally true that he is distinct as a Son from the Father; as the person speaking from the person spoken to; and as the messenger from Him that sent him. All these things are certain, because God has revealed them; and they will stand immutably and eternally on the basis of the divine veracity. “ For the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.” The one class of these disputants have laboured in vain to shake these truths, and the other fruitlessly endeavoured to extend the knowledge of mankind, by adding to them inventions and opinions of their
In spite of both, the doctrines, as they are revealed, have hitherto stood in the great body of Christian churches from the beginning, and will continue to stand. In this manner we are bound to receive them, viz. just as they are revealed.
It is further declared in the Scriptures, that “ Except a man “ be born again, born of the Spirit, born of God, he cannot see “ the kingdom of God.” It is said also that he must be created
anew in righteousness and true holiness." It is therefore certain, that unless we are born again, born of the Spirit, born of God, and created anew in righteousness and true holiness, we cannot see the kingdom of God. In other words, unless a change be made in our original moral character, such and so great as to be naturally and justly designated by such phrases as being born
again and created anew, we shall never be received into Heaven.
It is further revealed, that “ not by works of righteousness “ which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, “ by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy “ Ghost.” Itis said, that“ unless werepent, we shall perish.” We are commanded to “ turn to the Lord with all the heart.” “ The
people of Lydda and Saron,”itis declared,“ turned to the Lord.” We are therefore certain, that the Holy Ghost is the author of the renovation of mankind, and that mankind themselves do, at the same time, voluntarily turn to the Lord. Such a change then, as regeneration or renovation, exists in man, and is produced by the power of the Holy Ghost; yet man is as truly active and voluntary in this change, as in any other conduct. Many questions may indeed be started concerning the nature and extent of the agency of the Holy Ghost in our renovation, our own agency, and the consistency of these doctrines, which may perplex the authors of them, and their readers, which
never be answered to their satisfaction. Still it will be exactly true, and highly important to us, that we must be born again, and that, by the power of the Holy Ghost, exerted in coincidence with our own agency, whether we ever do or do not know any more of the subject than Nicodemus himself knew. All our doubts therefore concerning these subjects, and all our attempts to supply any supposed deficiencies of what is revealed concerning them, will be misplaced and vain, if not pernicious. That our hearts are deceitful above all things, and desperate
wicked," is another doctrine concerning human nature, and one which is remarkably humiliating and painful: but it is still true, and therefore useful and important; and therefore also to be implicitly received.
In the same manner, all precepts which require our selfdenial are humiliating and painful ; but they are a part of the will of God, and are of course right and profitable, and to be fully obeyed.
Nor is it enough that we believe or obey these doctrines and precepts. We must believe them cordially, because they are
true, and right, and good, and a part of the perfect will of God. They are to be inwoven with our daily thoughts, to mingle with all our affections, to become ours habitually, to be ever ready for use, and steadily to control our whole course of conduct; we are always cheerfully to believe and cheerfully to obey.
It will be unnecessary to illustrate this part of the subject by an induction of more examples,-I proceed therefore to observe,
III. That for the same reasons we are not to be influenced, either in our faith or in our practice, by any reference to secret things or things unrevealed. -- It has been already observed, that these things were not revealed, for the very same reason that others were, viz. that we might be placed in the very best situation for obtaining eternal life. For this purpose, all the proper objects of our faith, and all the necessary and useful rules of our practice, are made known to us. Our faith, therefore, will be perfect, when we cordially receive every revealed doctrine; and our practice, when we obey- every revealed precept. Neither would be perfect, were we to believe more doctrines, or obey more precepts. Whenever, therefore, we are governed, either in our belief or our conduct, by any reference to secret or unrevealed things, we render our belief less sound, our conduct less virtuous, and both less useful to ourselves, and less pleasing to God.
Among secret things, those which are usually most interesting, and most perplexing, respect, in some manner or other, the existence, character, and pleasure of our Maker, especially as connected with our final allotment in the world to come. On these, therefore, multitudes of volumes have been written, and years and ages consumed in study, fear, and sorrow, without any real benefit, and with much real injury to mankind.
It is declared in the Scriptures, that “God created all things “ for his own pleasure ; that his counsel shall stand; and that he “ will do all his pleasure.” Accordingly, we find God predicting a vast multitude of events, hundreds and thousands of years
before their accomplishment. Among these are multitudes, inseparably connected with, and dependent on the free, voluntary actions of men, and absolutely dependent on thousands and millions of such actions. Among these, also, are numbers, which may be considered as events of primary importance to the providential system ; events of such a nature, as that, if they had not taken place, the whole system must have been disturbed, and become, either chiefly or entirely, a different thing from what it has actually been. Of this number are the destruction of the Jewish empire by Nebuchadnezzar; the deportation of that people to Babylon ; their re-establishment in Judea ; the birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ; the publication of the Gospel; the introduction of the Gentiles into the church; and the final dispersion of the Jews by the Romans. That these were principal parts of the divine system will not be denied, because God predicted them as such, long before they existed. That they were accomplished by the voluntary actions of men, will no more be denied. The purpose of God, therefore, and the free and voluntary agency of man, are perfectly consistent with each other, because truths eannot be inconsistent. Yet, since men have not been able to explain the nature of this consistency, a thing which God has not thought proper to reveal, they have both doubted and denied it; and have also denied, in some instances, the purpose of God, and, in others, the freedom of human agency, both of which are abundantly declared and insisted on in the Scriptures.
It is declared in the Scriptures, that Adam apostatized from a state of holiness, and that his posterity have, in consequence of his apostacy, sustained the same moral character. But the manner and the cause of this apostacy is, to say the most, either not at all, or very imperfectly revealed. Yet it is to be feared, that many men, of no small reputation, have spent more time in attempting to explain, and in actually perplexing, this subject, than in gaining the victory over sin, performing their duty, or seeking eternal life.
The conversion of the soul from sin to holiness is abundantly declared in the Scriptures. But it is no where declared, that