« AnteriorContinuar »
desire you to bear in mind as I go along, ; that, knowing how liable I am to error, I feel no disposition to be very anxious about bringing you over to my opinions. The rage for profelytism is one of the curfes of the world. I wish to make no profelytes except to candour, and charity, and honest enquiry. You must judge for yourselves ; and should any thing I have said in my former discourses, or mall say in the present discourse, give you any afsistance in doing this, miy principal end will be answered. I can, in this instance, as in most others, with much more confidence say what is not, than what is the truth. The Athanasan or Calvinistic scheme of Christianity I reject with strong conviction. The Socinian scheme also, on the two points which chiefly distinguish it, I find myself incapable of receiving The reasons which determine my judgment on one of these points I have stated in my last discourse. I am now to state
my reasons for not receiving the Socinian doctrine on the other of these points.
God, my text fays, sent his Son to be the SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD.
I have observed that these words lead us to consider three particulars in the doctrine of our salvation by Christ.
First. The dignity of the Saviour. He was the Son Of God. This has been explained.
Secondly. The nature of the instrumentality, expressed by his having been
Thirdly. The nature of the service, expressed by his having been sent to be the SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD.
After I have said what I think necessary on the two last of these heads, you
will be in full possession of my sentiments of the Gospel.
I am first of all to give you an account of the nature of that instrumentality in the
work of our redemption which is afcribed to Christ, when it is faid that he was SENT of God to be the Saviour of the world. The following observations on this subject appear to me of some importance.
In the communication of benefits from one being to another there are two forts of instrumentality. There is an instrumentality which (being constrained and passive) does not imply obligation to the instrument; and which, therefore, requires no gratitude except to the donor himself. And there is an inftrumentality which (being spontaneous and active) does imply obligation to the instrument; and which, therefore, calls for gratitude to him as well as to the donor. Of the former sort is the instrumentality of a fervant in conveying a benefit to another from his master. In this case, the servant being merely the conveyer, and having no choice with respect to the communication of the benefit, the person benefited car
ries his views entirely to the master, and considers him alone as the cause of the be nefit of the latter fort is the instrumentality of one employed by another as a truftee to distribute his bounty, but who, at the same time, is left at liberty, and may be unfaithful if he pleases. In this case, thofę who partake of the bounty feel obligation and gratitude to the trustee as well as to his principal. Room is left . for the exercise of the free-will and difcretion of the trustee ; and the reception of the bounty is made to depend on his benevolence and honour in such a manner that, but for these, the recipient would have lost it.
Of this last fort is the instrumentality employed by the Deity in the distribution of his bounty among his reasonable creatures. He makes them, not passive instruments, but trustees and voluntary agents, in conveying to one another the blessings of his goodness. He makes them instruments in such a sense that the blessings received
fhall come from them, as well as primarily from him. He makes them, in short, grantors of benefits at the same time that they are conveyers. In no other way, could there have been room for gratitude to inferior beings for any benefits.
You must be sensible, that the principal blessings of our existence are not received by us immediately from the hands of the Deity. We see that he acts by instruments ; by pafive inftruments in the material world and by voluntary inftru. ments in the intellectual world. In both, there is a series established of intermediate causes between us and that Divine
power, wisdom, and goodness in which all causes terminate, on which they all depend, and to which ultimately they owe all their efficacy. Every reasonable and moral agent, placed in society and surrounded with fellow-creatures, is a trustee for distributing God's bounty. But, in the distribution, he is subjected to no restraints or limitations,