Page images
PDF
EPUB

ceivable, that a perfectly wise and powerful, and benevolent Being should ever do any thing but what is best. Hence Abraham demands, “ Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And Moses declares, “He is the rock; his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is be.” And David says, “ He is holy in all his ways, and righteous in all his works." His conduct is like his character, perfectly holy, just and good.

HEADS OF IMPROVEMENT. 1. If God always knows and does wbat is best, then he cannot do too much in respect to his creatures. Many are disposed to think and say, that God interposes too much in the concerns of mankind, in the dispensations of his providence. They choose to be left more to themselves, and be more independent of God. But why do they think and speak in this manner, if God does no more than he is obliged to do; and if he always does what is best?

2. If God always knows and does what is best, then there is always a good reason for all mankind to rejoice, that he governs and directs all things in the universe. The concerns of the universe are infinitely important, and even the concerns of one human being are unspeakably interesting.

3. If God always knows and does what is best, then it is highly criminal for any to murmur or complain of any of God's dealings. He has the same good design in every part of his conduct, towards every one of his creatures. One has no more reason to complain, than another. He treats every one as well as possible.

4. If God always knows and does what is best for his creatures, then it is never necessary that they should know what he intends to do with them, in order to know what they ought to do in respect to him. They ought to love, obey, submit, and serve him.

5. If God always knows and does what is best, then the reason why awakened sinners strive with and oppose God, is, they are afraid he will do right. They wish him to do wrong.

6. If God always knows and does what is best, then unreserved submission is a most reasonable thing. It is founded in the bighest reason and is necessary to the highest happiness.

7. If God always knows and does what is best, then there is no ground to despair of the salvation of any sinners—the greatest, most stupid, or most obstinate.

8. If God always knows and does what is best, then no sinners have ground to despair of themselves. God knows and regards their case-will do what is right.

9. If God always knows and does what is best, then God's conduct towards the finally miserable, will not disturb, but promote the blessedness of saints and angels-It must, and it is said it will.

10. This subject affords a plain rule of trial.

11. This subject affords ground of hope and consolation to the righteous. This is the message from heaven--God is light, &c.

12. This subject affords matter of terror to sinners. God will have something to do with them-will call or leave--savexpr destroy them.

SENEX.

For the Hopkinsian Magazine. REVIVAL MEASURES-N0. 4.

In my last number I premised a few facts which may serve as landmarks in this discussion of measures to promote revivals of religion. It is now my design to contemplate the different tendency and effects of the two methods which in my first and second numbers I briefly described.

Before contemplating this subject in the mere light of expediency, let us reflect that the course pursued by Dr. Credulus is plain disobedience to the divine commands. The commission of every ambassador of Christ enjoins him to “ Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke aud exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure asilictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.He is plainly told that " all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profilable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” He is expressly commanded to “ diminish not a word” from the divine testimony, and to be a faithful steward in dispensing the word of life, giving to every one a word in due season. To, conceal or withhold any part of the divine counsel and testimony, because the time has come when men will not endure sound doctrine, · is to obey man, and disobey God. But what can persons ultimately

expect to gain by turning from God and his decrees, bis cominands and his glory. Did Saul gain any thing in the end, by refusing to fulfil all his co nmission against Amalech? Did Jonah gain in the end by trying to conceal the message of the Lord to the Ninevites? Did the unfaithful prophets gain in the end, by being " partial in the lai?"

The course adopted by Dr. C. is grossly dishonest. It is not declaring “ the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." It is far from an honest arowal of that scheme of divine truth, which he professes to believe. He keeps back some absolutely fundamental points which distinguish this scheme from others. It is not only not a fair representation of genuine Calvinism, but indirectly a positive misrepresentation of it. At least it will be generally so understood; for there is no medium between God's decreeing and not decreeing all things, causing and not causing all moral exercises, electing and not electing a certain definite number from all eternity to be sared, and choosing and not choosing on the whole the salvation of all. It is stealing the credit of the popularity and success of the scheme of another religious denomination, under false colors. This gross dishonesty and hypocrisy has long been noticed by Methodists, Unitarians, and Infidels, who have widely and justly complained of and reproached such professed Calvinists; and there is no way to

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 from such duplicity in religious teachers. It will directly promote religious fraud and deceit, and destroy moral principle. 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 his 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 unwilling to have his ultimate end, his decrees, and his agency made known, for they are the crown of bis 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 tbe Lord, and highly derogatory to his 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 own character; for it is only in the light of truth respecting God, that we can see light respecting our de pendance, 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 froin 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 in 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 ambassadors 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 chargeable 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 notbing more than a willingness that God should save us just as he pleases. Let it be presumed that God would be glorified infinitely more in the salvation of all men, than of only a part, and that God wisbes 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 exereise 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 onJy 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 sinners 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 purpose. 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 error. 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 above all things, or had entirely forgotten these scriptural and important truths. Such persons would be wise to pause a od contemplate the solemn caution or Christ, to watch as well as pray.

A LAYMAN. [To be conlinued.]

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 wbat 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 knowledge. 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 exis

« PreviousContinue »