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until then. In order to these effects, the natural knowledge spirtiual things must be exploded, and the instruction, which is from the Spirit of God alone, resorted to, and acknowledged as such; then the terms, faith, hope, and charity, will be understood, and cultivated, and the christian world will thereby become a world of christians; all seeing eye to eye, through the same celestial glass, reflecting the same divine, and spiritual light upon the glorious subjects of the future world, and the relations of things.
It is written, inan shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Math. 4. 4. How can men live on the word of God, unless they make mental, and moral food of it? It is thus employed in reading the scriptures; in meditating upon the realities which they disclose, and which are of an insensible nature. Devotion is of like character, when properly engaged in. Not as some who seem to expect by their fervent prayers to change the plans of heaven, or to give a new direction to the purposes of God.
of God. In devotion the word of God is indispensible it is as much impossible to pray without the use of God's word, as it is impossibte to eat without food, or to see without light; this is evident in pri" vate, and silent devotion. Upon divivine things we think, and speak in words, as it is by their sense, and meaning believed, that spiritual desires are excited. Hence it is, that the word is the life, and soul of the christian in his religious exercises. It is by those exercises of faith in the christian life, that it works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world. It is thus, that those who by use, have their mental senses exercised to discern both good and evil: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Their consciences are thereby made daily more alive to the exceed. ing sinfulness of sin, and of its opposition to God, and his law. It is by the progressive influence of faith in the life of the christian, that the human character is raised from a state of nature, and sensuality, to a resemblance of its maker. This is the work of sanctification; it is begun in time, and will be perfected in eternity. Holiness does not consist in such
a state of heart, as to feel willing to be damned for the glo. ry of God, according to the Hopkensian error. As the good Dr. Witherspoon observes upon that subject, “The opinion is so repugnant to nature, and to that very solicitude about eternal happiness, by which the conscience is first laid hold of, that it appears to be utterly impossible. There is such an inseparable connection between our duty and happiness, that question should never have been moved.
The proposition seems to me necessarily to imply an inpossibility. What is damnation? It is to be forever separated from, and deprived of the fruition of God. Is this then a doubtful object, either of desire, or acquiescence? It is to hate God, and blaspheme his name, as well as to be banished from his presence. Can this be tolerable to any true penitent?; or is it reconcileable to, or consistent with subjection to his righteous will? Can any creature be supposed to please God by giving up all hope of his favour? Or is it less absurd than "disobeying” from a sense of “duty,” and “hating” him from a principle of "love?” With erspoon on Regeneration.
Actions originally pleasurable or indifferent, or even in a considerable degree painful, are performed at first from an interested motive, that is, with a view of gratification, or advantage. No man can love, and worship God without the previous knowledge of him in his lovely character, as a God who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son as a sin offering, that through him he might have mercy upon the sons of men; and as the creator, preserver, and governor of all things. These things are presented to the
eye of the mind, by the revelations, and representations of the Spirit of God in his word, and they can only be believed in, with rational assurance, by the divine testimony, which proves them true. The authority of God, who is omnipotent, and governs all things, speaking in his word, is the power by which the mind crucifies the flesh, with the affections, and lusts, which is contrary to nature, and is violently opposed by it. Actions repeated a sufficient number of times, generate affections, or a tendency to perform them, independent of the advantage to be derived from it. The same causes continuing to operate, the affection will gradu
ally attain such a degree of vigour, as to be of itself suffi cient to produce the action, without any attention whatever to the interested motive, as such. The affection, in this case, is called disinterested; and the essence of a disinterested affection is, that its only object is its own gratification. Hence it follows, that disinterestedness respects the degree, and not the tendency of the affection--it is equally applicable to affections of good or bad tendency; that is, either virtuous or vicious; hence the divine rule "bring up a child in the way he should go, and when he becomes old he will not depart from it.” And again, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the Leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.” Thus avarice, as well as benevolence, may be in a high degree disinterested; as, when money is saved from a mere habit of saving, without any distinct view, either to present, or to future advantage. An affection, therefore, the tendency of which is to ultimate happiness, may, at the same time, be perfectly disinterested; and it is necessary, to consummate virtue, and felicity, that it should be so. The objection, therefore, against the definition of virtue given above, as being ineonsistent with disinterested love of virtue, is of no weight, being founded in ignorance of, or inattention to the true theory of human nature. From the origin, and history of the disinterested affections, it is obvious that virtuous actions are first performed from interested motives, and that, by the repetition of these actions, virtuous affections are generated, which gradually become disinterested. Hence it follows, that it is an error to represent virtuous affections as innate, and likewise to assert that disinterested love of virtue is the first approach to a virtuous character. It would be equally consistent with the philosophy of the mind, to maintain that the first step towards avarice is a disinterested love of money. In rendering to God our obedience, we consult, and secure our own felicity in the best, and most effectual manner we possibly can.
This is indeed the proper operation of enlightened, rectified self-love. "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the present life, and of that which is to come." No. man ever did obey the law of God by the dictates of his natural feeling, any more than a savage the laws of society by his natural wants. In both instances, those feelings, and wants propel to gratification, in violation of the law, and whenever they are restrained, it is not by instinctive or infused principles, but by the authority of the laws, apprehended by the mind. Fear, for the most part, is the first moving principle which produces obedience to the laws of God, and man. It does not follow, that, because the natural disposition, and desire of uncultivated man is to use, and occupy whatever presents itself to him, indiscriminately, which is suited to relieve his wants, and painful necessities, that, therefore, a Republican Government is a bad form of government, because it imposes restraint upon natural appetites, desires, &c. . The government of God pays no court to the passions, but imperatively commands restraint. Against this law they rise in rebellion; for the desires of the flesh, the objects of avarice, ambition, &c. and a mind devoted to them, their gratification, and pursuit, which make it earthly, sensual, and devlish, are necessarily at war with the laws, and government of God. The law of the mind, which is God's word believed, is that which brings into subjection the laws of the flesh. Such is the nature of the government of God, under the dispensation of grace, that a display of his power in establishing his authority, and manifesting his displeasure against sin, must make man tremble as it does devils; but his good. ness, and his mercy to the former, displayed through Jesus Christ, necessarily excite love in the heart which is subdued to the obedience of faith, while the latter must continue to tremble on, to whom the penalties of the law is the constant language of their God. James, in his Epistle to the twelve tribes of Israel, tells them, “Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and and tremble;" but he does not say that they, the twelve tribes, believed in Jesus Christ--that would be salvation; God out of Christ is a consuming fire. Behold, therefore, the goodness, and severity of God.
Once the passions are subdued, and the wicked imaginations are brought down, which are often done by the terrors of the Lord, as they are the great foundation of persuasion to men, theunderstanding perceives the great excellency
of God's government of gracę. Correspondent with the displays of power, justice, wisdom, mercy, goodness, and truth, which form its essential characters, will be the approbation of the understanding, the obedience of the will, and the glow of the affections. The cup of sensuality is dashed, and poisoned by the prohibition of God, thus manifested; the appetites, however, are not extinguished. All beings capable of knowing, comparing, and judging, are capable of willing, desiring, and tending to what appears to them good, and perfective of their being. Love to God implies a competent degree of knowledge of, and acquaintance with his character. A love without knowledge is the love of an idiot-not of an intelligent being. We must both know what we love, and why we love it. We know why we love the world, pleasure, our relatives, and friends; and why we love a republican form of government. The understanding, will, and affections, are the faculties or princi, ples of our intelligent moral nature. The united influence of them, determines our words, actions, and pursuits, Proper apprehensions of the divine character, engage, and occupy all these principles, and powers, in the most exalted, and refined degree. Love to God, thus produced, is the language of right reason. It is not a languid, inactive affection, but a strong, and fervent one of the heart, which glows there. It is enkindled by a view of the glory, and goodness of God, as manifested through Jesus Christ, to our race, and the individual who beholds it. This view in. cludes the apprehension of the power, and severity of God, for every attribute must fall into the same mental focus, in order to produce a proper, and an abiding result,
It is in consequence of this influence, that we in a thousand instances desire, and shun objects in direct opposition to our passions, and appetites. Every wise man, for example, shuns indolence of thought, dissipation, and the forbidden indulgence of his senses, and passions; and every good man makes it the leading business of his life to restrain, and govern his sensuality, avarice, and ambition, by the law of his God. These are the leading enemies against which every christian comes on his spiritual warfare; and the weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God to