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remove this reproach, but to become “the noblest work of God.” Such persons would do well to study the golden maxim that “honesty is the best policy.” Who can calculate the evils that result fron such duplicity in religious teachers. It will directly promote religious fraud and deceit, and destroy moral priuciple. It will eventually bring all religion into contempt, sever the chains of moral restraint, and open the floodgates of religious dissipation.
The course adopted by Dr. C. is greatly dishonorable to God. It is an open distrust of bis wisdom and goodness. It implies that the means of grace which he bas appointed are unwise and inexpedient. It gives a caricature of his designs and government. God is not uowilling to have his ultimate end, his decrees, and his agency made known, for they are the crown of his glory. To conceal them from the eyes of men, or misrepresent them, is counteracting the great design of providence, in making all the world know that he is the Lord, and higbly derogatory to bis name. It is directly taking the part of his enemies, in their efforts to cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before them."
The course adopted by Dr. C. will have a tendency to keep people in great ignorance respecting the divine perfections, and their owo character; for it is only in the light of truth respecting God, that we can see light respecting our dependance, obligations and sinfulness. It sadly keeps from saints the means of sanctification, and from sinners the means of conviction and conversion. For no persons can be said to be truly convicted, until they are made to see and feel their native enmity against God and the gospel, or purify their souls only “ in obeying the truth.” Ignorance is not the mother of devotion, but of delusion, moral death and final ruin. And this course is injurious just in proportion to the importance of the truths concealed. Danger does not result from divine knowledge, but from ignorance. There is no danger of too much enlightening the understanding of sinners, for it is ignorance that leads them into delusion, self-conceit, and false hopes, and causes them to be blown about with every wind of doctrine, until they are ingulphed in moral ruin. The apostle says, “and this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more io knowledge and in all judgment.” But such a course of superficial declamatory preaching will proinote a frothy kind of religion without intellect, and mere feeling without moral discernment. It will throw theological inquiry and solid investigation entirely into the sbade, and carry the church back to the dark ages of enthusiasm, wild-fire and confusion. It will remove from the ministry or put entirely into the back ground, all those instructive, faithful, and useful anibassadors of Christ, who have been the defence, the light, and the salvation of the church, and introduce into the pulpit a class of ignorant unprincipled novices, and vulgar declamatory enthusiasts who will disgrace the sacred desk, and bring all religion into contempt. It will drive classical and theological professors, who are friends of a thorough education, from their offices, and raise pedants to posts of honor, and stations of influence.
But the most deceitful and deplorable evil that is ehargeable upon This superficial scheme, is the fact that the truths and duties it professes to inculcate, are not exhibited in a true and discriminating light, nor urged by correct and unequivocal motives. Let a sinner, for instance, be led to think that God is on the whole strongly disposed to save him, and intends to make him eternally happy; that he regards the salvation of sinners as a primary object, and is so infinitely willing, so deeply engaged, and so strongly desirous all things considered to bring every person to repentance, as this scheme naturally teaches, and unconditional submission to God would be nothing more than a willingness that God should save us just as he pleases. Let it be presumed that God would be glorifed infinitely more in the salvation of all men, than of only a part, and that God wishes on the whole to have all come to him and have life, and sends his spirit to strive, his word to warn, and his ambassadors to entreat for the sole purpose of accomplishing this end, and repentance for sin against such a powerful friend, would be the spontaneous exercise of every awakened sinner. Love to such a view of God would naturally be just that kind of affection which Christ condemned when he said, “If ye love them that love you, what thank have ye, for sioners love those who love them.” A change of heart with this view of God, would only be to give up the world as our chief object, and embrace the happiness of the next. Total depravity would only be that worldly selfishness which moral suasion and a change of circumstances would easily overcome. Natural ability would be considered a power to act without the causing agency of God. The whole frame is all out of joint, for the want of some of its essential parts.*
Hence this course will be far from shutting up singers to the true faith and spirit of the gospel. Indeed by leaving out of view the ultimate design, universal decrees, agency and absolute sovereignty of God, and inculcating a peculiar view of the prayer of faith and the responsibility of christians which subverts the divine sovereignty; not to mention the encouragement given to unregenerate doings; sinners are absolutely led into “another gospel.” But reasoning from the bible, the deceitfulness of the natural heart, and from stubborn facts, we know it is not only necessary to avoid giving erroneous instruction to sinners, but to shut them up to the true faith and disinterested spirit of the gospel by full and discriminating exhibitions of
*Note:—The following extract from an installation sermon by Mr. Aikin of Utica, is worthy of serious attention. “ Not to declare the whole counsel of God, is, I was about to say, not to declare any. A part is one thing, the whole is another. Take away a considerable pivot in a watch, and the remainder ceases to answer our parpose. The system of God's revealed will to man is one connected whole, the several parts of which are dependant on, and supported by each other. Besides, a partial exhibition of divine truth is, perhaps, more likely to deceive and destroy the soul, than open and gross
We are more in danger of being misled by the twilight of the evening, than by the darkness of the night. In the former case, imagination magnifies objects indistinctly seen, or conceives of others that do not exist; in the latter, we have recoprse to reason, and step with greater caution."
U. C. Ropository, 1822, p. 72.
divine truth, in order to save their souls from death. From the credulity, heedlessness and unfaithfulness which many mistaken friends of revivals have lately manifested in the use of means, one might naturally infer that they either disbelieved that the carnal mind is enmity against God and holiness, and deceitful abore all things, or bad entirely forgotten these scriptural and important truths. Such persons would be wise to pause and contemplate the solemn caution of Cbrist, to watch as well as pray.
A LAYMAN. (To be continued.)
ALL FOR THE BEST.
(Concluded from page 93) But this is not all. The perfections of God render it certain that every event which takes place is for the best. God is infinite in knowledge, infinite in goodness, and infinite in power. No one will deny that he has these perfections. He could not be God, if he were deficient in any of them. But, if he is infinite in knowledge, he knows what is for the best; if he is infinite in goodness, he chooses that what is for the best should take place; and if he is infinite in power, nothing can prevent his bringing to pass whatever he chooses should come to pass. It is certain, then, that whatever takes place is for the best.
To state the argument more at large. God is infinite in knowedge. He looks through all space and all duration with a single glance. He perceives all the consequences of things, and all the bearings of each event, before it takes place as well as after. If any event will mar the system, and render it less good on the whole, he knows it perfectly. Of all possible systems, he must have known from the beginning which was the best. And if the present system is not the best, and if all its parts are not the best adapted to promote the great end of the whole, and arranged in the best possible manner, it cannot be for the want of knowledge in God. He knew it as well before he created the world, as it ever can be known.
God is also infinite in goodness. And this must prompt him to choose what is best. To say that God is infinitely good, and yet prefers a less good to a greater good, is a contradiction. When, therefore, he perceived among all possible systems, which was the best, he must have chosen it, in preference to all others. If he chooses that the greatest sum of good should be brought into existence, he must choose that those events should take place which are best adapted to secure this great end. Hence, if the present system is not the best, it is not that wbich God prefers. He has seen that a different system would be better, and set his heart upon it, and exerted bimself to the utmost to carry it into effect, but has failed in the attempt. He has done all he could to prevent the existence of such events as he saw to be not for the best, but has found bimself unable!
But this cannot be: for God is infinite in power. He is the Almighty. None can stay his hand, or resist bis will. If he sees that a certain system is the best, containing the greatest possible amount of good, be is able to carry it into complete effect. Every event which is on the whole for the best, he is able to bring to pass. And every event which is not for the best, he is able to prevent. No event, then, comes into existence, but what is for the best.
It may be, however, notwithstanding the certainty of this conclusion, that some will still doubt. They cannot see how certain events can be for the best; and so, thay are ready to conclude they cannot be. But, what if we cannct see how? Could Joseph see how his going into Egypt as a slave, was to be for the best? Yet so it proved. Could Jacob see how the apparent loss of his children, was to be for the best, when he said, “all these things are against me?” Yet, time showed him his mistake. Could the Israelites see how it was for the best for them, in their Night from Egypt, to be bemmed in by the mountains, with the s' a before them, and their angry foes in the rear? Yet a short season unfolded tbe mystery, and turned their murmers and complaints into songs of triumph. Is there no ground for trust in God? If we cannot see through his designs, if we cannot perceive the wisdom of his purposes, can we repose no confidence in his infinite perfection ? Is it reasonable for us to condemn a whole system, when we have seen but a small part of it? Is it not presumption in us to array our ignorance against the perfections of the Almiglity; and because we cannot see the wisdom and goodness of his dispensations, to dare to tell him he might have done better than he has done? Let us humble ourselves, and be ashamed, if we have indulged so impious a thought.
But, perhaps son:e may say, they are satislied with what God has done: They believe what he has done is for the best: But they think many events take place, in which he has no band: And these are things which they think not for the best. What are these things? Are they the introduction of sin into the world, and the various sins which are committed? These are, in themselves, great evils; but before we conclude they are not for the best, let us consider them carefully.
Take the introduction of sin into the world, in the fall of man. Was it for the best that man should fall? Is the answer, No? Why, then, did not God prevent it? Did not be know whether it would be for the best or not? Was he not acquainted with all the consequences which would flow from this event? Did he not know whether it would introduce more evil than good into the system? If he saw all the consequences, and knew it would be unspeakably better that they should not take place, why did he not prevent them? Had he no choice about it? To say that he knew it was not for the best, and yet had no choice whether it should take place, or not, is very highly to impeach his goodness. Did he choose to prevent it, then, but find himself unable? Was man stronger than God?
Was Almighty power too weak to control a creature? This cannot be supposed. To say this, is to say that God is not Almighty. The conclusion, then, is, that God did not prevent man froin sinning, because he did not, on the whole, choose to prevent him. And he did not choose to prevent him, because it was not best in bis view that he should be prevented; that is, it was, on the whole, for the best, in the view of Infinite Wisdom, that man should fall.
But some have intimated, and others bave dared to say openly, that it was not for the best that man should fall; and that God knew it was not, and chose to prevent it, but could not, without destroying the freedom of man as a moral agent; and that this is the reason he did not prevent it.
This is strange ground to take. Those who say this, say what they connat prove; and by saying it, they contradict themselves, change sides, and advocate the conclusion which they profess to oppose. They say what they cannot prove. It was possible for God to prevent the fall of man without touching bis moral agency: There is no error in the assumption, that God could have prevented all sin in a moral systein, if he had seen it to be best. It is absurd to suppose an all wise Being would give existence to creatures whose conduct he knew he could not control; and who would therefore be as likely to defeat as to accomplish the end for which he made them. And it is a dictate of common sense that the Most High God could have governed creatures entirely dependant on him, so as to inake them obedient and keep them so. He could have kept them out of the reach of temptation. He could liave “put his spirit within them, and caused thein to walk in bis statutes." “ Not being sufficient of themselves to think any thing, as of themselves,” he could have “worked in them to will and to do,” in such a manner as to prevent the entrance of sin into the universe. Holding in his hand the hearts of all beings, he could have turned them whithersoever be would.” The assumption, therefore, is not gratuitous, that God could have prevented all sin among moral agents. And the conclusion is undeniable, that he has not done it, because he saw it was not for the best that it should be done. Furthermore, those who say it was not for the best that man should fall, and that the reason why God did not prevent it, was, that he must thereby have destroyed the freedom of man as a moral agent, in so saying, contradict themselves, change sides, and advocate the conclusion they profess to oppose, For it is the same as to say, it was better, in God's view, that man should fall, than that his moral agency should be destroyed; which is the same as to say, it was on the whole for the best that man should fall.
If we take any other event, the result will be the same. If it is not for the best, why is it not prevented? Not for the want of knowledge in sod; not for the want of goodness; not for the want of power. The conclusion, therefore, is irresistible. The infinite knowledge of God enables him to perceive what events are for the best; his infinite goodness prompts him to choose that those events should take place; and his infinite power enables him to bring them to pass. All events, therefore, which do take place, are for the best.