« AnteriorContinuar »
man sustains a twofold character also; that of an accountable agent, and tirat of a disposable subject. As passive in the hand of a sovereign God, he is neces. sitated to good, in proportion as goodness attaches to him; and in the heirs of salvation this is predestination to life. As active, or a moral agent, man is treated according to the rules of reason and equity, yet mingled with undeserved favours. So that every man is, in these different respecis, at once the subject of liberty and necessity.
Equally vague and unprofitable, therefore, is all controversy on the subject now alluded to while one side contends for liberty and the other for necessity to the usual exclusion of the opposite. Neither can be wholly right. For, as sure as God disposes of a man for final good, the doctrine of necessity is true; and as sure as a man is a transgressor of divine law, and thus is fitted for destruction, he is free from all decretive necessity. Therefore,
4. Here is no room for the inicious inference, that when we do evil we are pre. destinated to it. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for as God cannot be tempted with evil, so neither iempteth he any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enuced. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren; every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.---But evil, in whatever person, in whatever place, at whatever time, in whatever form or degree, is from a quarter diametrically opposite.---On the contrary,
5. When at any time we are engaged in the work of God, in any thing what. ever that is morally goox?, then are we employed in the execution of the divine purposes; for there is no good done in time but was decreed to be done, in all its circumstances, from eternity. Even all the actions of the wicked, except the deformity or sinfulness which is in them, are also worthy of God to predestinate. This consideration, every one must allow, is a great incentive to viriue and boli. ness. This remark is applicable both to ministers and people. Are ministers en. gaged in preaching the law for conviction, the promises for encouragement, and the unsearchable riches of Christ for consolation ; are they urging, according to scripture commands and example, repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; do they enforce christian duties, teaching the disciples all things whatsoever our Lord and lawgiver has commanded ; do they warn sinners to fice from the wrath to come, or invite the burdened and heavy laden to seek rest in the meek and lowly, the merciful and loving Saviour? They are in all this only the instruments of a sovereign God, or the appointed means whereby he executes his eternal purposes. Again, has God enjoined the necessity of repentance, futh, holiness, obedience, and perseverance : poverty of spirit, holy mourning, purity of heart, love to enemies, &c? our personal compliance, which is evermore of grace, is only the decreed method of bringing us to that eternal glory which is the end. Once more,
6. This doctrine properly guarded, and rightly understood, shews with peculiar force the true ground of repentance, and the obligations of gratitude and holiness. If the sinfulness of no action is decreed, but proceeds wholly from that in lis which is opposite to God and his will, whether secret or revealed, rectoral or decretive, what can be more binding and reasonable than repentance toward God? And it'all good, whether natural, supernatural, moral or spiritual, in ourselves and others, in time and to eternity proceed from God's predestination, what a foundation is there laid for gratitude! Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering. Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thunktul. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Amen."
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.