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and far less exceptionable, than exists between the Supreme Law. that of the other statements which giver, and the subjects of his goI have mentioned, at the beginning vernment. of this essay. It does not however Attention to the distinction which appear to be perfectly precise and I have now stated, appears neces. satisfactory. Authority on the one sary to a correct understanding of part, and obligation on the other, the grounds and reasons of moral necessarily imply each other. The obligation. By overlooking it, we former cannot be ascribed to any shall be in constant danger of fallbeing, without supposing a corres- ing into confusion and error. ponding obligation to belong to That rational creatures are unsome other being. They are essen- der moral obligation to obey the tially related, and must have the laws of their Creator is an ultinate same foundation; and in the in- truth, a fundamental maxim in mostance of which we are speaking, rals and theology. To attempt, they are founded upon the relation therefore, to assign reasons for this whích God sustains to his rational primary truth, would be no less abcreatures. To make the subject surd than a similar attempt would perfectly plain, it must be observed be, in regard to the primary axioms that the following questions, Why of mathematicks. Nothing more am I under obligation to obey the can be done than to develope and commands of God? and, Why am illustrate the ideas which the proI under obligation to perform a par- position essentially involves; but ticular action, or pursue a particu- if, after all, any man should not lar course of conduct? although perceive the indispensable obligasomewhat resembling each other, tion under which he is laid to obey require a very different answer. the glorious Author of his nature, The first is the ultimate question, and the bountiful Giver of all his and that to which I have endea- comforts, he must be looked upon voured to give an answer, in the either as a monster of impiety, or preceding part of this inquiry. The as one destitute of reason. proper answer to the second ques It will readily be admitted, that tion, Why am I under obligation if our obligation results from our reto perform a particular action? un- lation to our Creator, the sentidoubtedly is, because God com- ment of moral obligation must remands it. This however implies sult from a view of that relation. that he has authority to give laws Indeed, the latter proposition is no for the regulation of our actions; less evident than the former, and, and also that we are bound to obey if admitted as correct, necessarily them. But if the ultimate question establishes the former. In what be asked, Why am I under obliga. manner, then, would a wise man tion to obey the laws and com- proceed in the endeavour to impress mands of God? it will not be suffi. upon the minds of others, senticient to reply, that this obligation ments of duty and obedience to is founded on the Divine authority. their Maker? Not, surely, by tellThis is doing little, if any thing, ing them that their welfare dependmore than repeating the sense of ed their obedience. They could the question in other words. That infer nothing more from this repreGod' has authority to command, sentation than that it is a matter of and that we are under obligation prudence to do what God comto obey, are really expressions of mands. Would he tell them that entirely equivalent import, and obedience will conduce to the getherefore one cannot be employed neral welfare! From this they to account for the other. They could infer nothing more than that both result from the relation which it is expedient to act in conformit
to the Divine commands. Both these ture and fitness of things. It is ab. ideas, that of prudence and of ex surd to suppose that acceptable pediency, are essentially different obedience can proceed from any from the idea of duty and moral ob- of these principles, or indeed, that ligation; and, consequently, what- the actions which they produce can ever is done from a regard to them, have any thing of the nature of solely, cannot be considered as obe- obedience. dience to God. He would certainly A regard to our own welfare, and direct their attention to the infinite that of others, is not to be conmajesty and glory of God; his re- demned; it may concur, as a useful lation to us, as our Creator and Be auxiliary, with the higher principle nefactor and Sovereign Lord; and of duty. But these principles are our absolute dependence upon him, perfectly distinct; and so far as for all that is excellent in our na our actions have the nature of obeture, and desirable in our existence. dience, they must proceed from the This is the manner of scripture. principle of duty. When God promulgated his law to To strengthen our convictions of Israel, he prefaced it with these moral obligation, we ought frequent. words: “I am the Lord thy God, ly to reflect upon the transcendent which have brought thee out of the glory and majesty of God; our de land of Egypt; out of the house of pendance upon him for our exis. bondage. In that most beautiful tence, our powers, and all our en: address to the Church, contained joyments; and, consequently, that in the forty-fifth Psalm, the founda- it is our indispensable duty to action of our obligation is stated very knowledge him in all our ways; distinctly:. “ For he is thy Lord; and to subject every principle of and worship thou him.” “Know
our nature, every desire of our therefore," said Moses to Israel, minds, to his supreme and righteous " that the Lord thy God, he is God, authority. Holiness in man conthe faithful God, which keepeth co sists essentially in obedience; in venant and mercy with them that the direction and regulation of love bim, and keep his command- every part of our constitution in ments—Thou shalt therefore keep conformity to his command, and the commandments, and the sta from a regard to his authority and tutes, and the judgments, which I will. How important then is it, command thee this day, to do them.” that a conviction of our indispenHow incomparably more sublime sable obligation to the glorious Au. and rational is the view which these thor of our being, should be deeply passages afford of the reasons and and constantly impressed upon our ground of obligation, than that which miods. How carefully should we is afforded by the futile theories avoid whatever may have a tendenwhich some have ventured to ad- cy to weaken or efface it; and how vance on this subject! Indeed, diligent should we be, in using the these theories evidently amount to means by which it may be preserved a disavowal of obligation to obey and strengthened. God. Their authors virtually say,
The obligation under which we although we judge it right to do are laid to obey our Creator, being what God has commanded, yet admitted, all that remains for us is, this is not because we consider our to discover what he commands, and selves under the obligation of duty what he forbids; and to regulate or obedience to him, but because the our conduct accordingly. Wheperformance of what he has com- ther we can assign any reason why manded appears most conducive to he has enjoined a particular rule of personal happiness; or to general duty, or not, will not affect our utility; or is agreeable to the na- obligation. It is sufficient, if it has
the stamp of his authority. To re nature. No such division can now fuse compliance until we can per- be amicably made. If such an event ceive its tendency to promote our ever takes place, it must be by some own happiness, or the happiness of violent schism, bringing discord, jeaothers, would be rebellion against lousy and contention in its train. the authority of God.
Neither the good of the church nor the glory of our Master, can be promoted by such unhallowed scenes.
Something, however, must be OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENERAL AS- speedily done, or violence and se. SEMBLY
PRESBYTERIAN cession will be the result. To me CHURCH.
the course seems plain-and I can No. 5.
see but one adequate remedy for all Remedies Proposed.
the existing evils:- synodical re
presentation, on an equitable ratio, Dear Sir,-You know it has some is such a remedy. times been suggested that the Gene Let the constitution be so altered ral Assembly should meet triennially. as to abolish the present mode of I confess, if it must be divested of its sending commissioners from presbyjudicial capacity, so far that no ap- teries, and give to synods the right peals or complaints can be heard in of sending one minister and one its sessions, when the interests of the elder, for every twenty-five ministers church require them to be heard, I --subject to a diminution when the shall care little whether its meetings number shall reach a certain maxiare oftener than septennial. But a mum. Let the principle of fractriennial session would divest the tional representation be applied to body of its judicial character, and the new system as it is to the oldrender it no longer useful or desira- and we shall have a remedy; but it ble, as a court of review.
may be sought in vain with a repreSuch a measure would break up sentation from presbyteries. almost the entire relations of that The plan I propose would preserve court-and I should deem it labour the radical principles of Presbyterilost to state in detail objections to a anism, as entire as on the existing scheme so utterly impracticable. I plan. A synod is in fact, only a larger cannot persuade myself that it has presbytery, including all the pasbeen seriously approved by any Pres. tors, and having a representation byterian.
from all branches of the church There is a project, which has as within its limits. A delegation from sumed a more serious aspect, and the larger, instead of the smaller been advocated by some wise men. presbytery, can invade no presbyI have heard it spoken of as inevita- terial principle--and the body so ble.-?o divide the Presbyterian constituted, will as really represent Church into two Assemblies, having the whole church as when the delecorrespondence with each other by gates come from the smaller presdelegation.
byteries. Such an event I should deprecate. The representation will be more It would awaken and cherish local equal, because the fractional proporinterests—promote jealousies—and tion will be less-and because synods I should anticipate a complete failure, will be more likely to secure a full in attempting to preserve harmony delegation and punctual attendance. and fellowship
The lay delegation will be more full, If all difficulties, connected with and the Assembly become a much the funds of the Assembly and the more just representation of the direction of theological seminaries, church than it ever can be on the could be avoided in the division, i present plan. ahould fear others of a more serious The Assembly will not then be so Vol. V, -Ch. Adv.
unroieldy. There will be a conve. was put into the hands of presbyteries nient number for deliberation, per- for revision-In 1820 it was altered fectly competent to transact all the and fully revised. The confession business of a session, in less than two and constitution were published with weeks. We shall then hear no more great care under the direction of the of invading the radical principles of Assembly, and pains taken to circuour government to get rid of busi- late the copies. 'Along with that cirness, or to save the reputation of our culation was conveyed the opinion, highest court. Less time will be that this was now to be a permanent spent in the political concerns of the instrument. The work was stereomeeting-less in useless debate—and typed, and an unprecedented number the time of all the members will be of copies put into the hands of the appropriated to some profit, instead church. In 1825 another alteration of many of them retarding, as they was proposed in the ratio of reprenow do, the business of the Assembly. sentation, which was consummated
More than half the expense may last year. Before the last proposibe saved--and the intolerablc burden tion I felt no alarm-nor did I then upon the citizens of Philadelphia be fully appreciate some fears expressremoved. The miserable custom of ed by Fathers in the church, that the indiscriminate rotation in sending spirit of innovation might lead to delegates will be discontinued, or be disastrous results. come less injurious to the reputation But did the decision of the presof the Assembly and interests of the byteries to alter the ratio satisfy church. Complaints against deci- the Assembly? Far from it. The sions of the highest judicatory will current of reform has unsettled the be lessened and murmurs of dissatis- minds of many, and produced disfaction hushed, because confidence satisfaction with many parts of the will be felt in the wisdom of the constitution. This age of wonderful court. The secular character of the improvement must impart its saluproceedings will be corrected, and tary influence to remodelling the the undue importance of mere tech- church. It is now proposed to set nicality lost, in the wisdom, esperi- aside one of the radical principles ence and fear of God pervading the of presbyterial government. Where Assembly
shall we stop? Not with the proposed A consideration of no small mo- alterations now submitted. 'Year ment seems to be overlooked by the after year must give birth to some Asseinbly, in submitting expedient af- new expedient, until such an aliena. ter expedient to the presbyteries- tion is produced, that some violent The stability of our constitution and schism, or an entire dissolution of the consistency of our highest judica- Assembly, will mark the termination. tory:
I do not find fault with the alteraThe whole system of temporary tion of the ratio of representation expedients for removing present it was a measure called for by cirevils, is calculated to cherish the cumstances beyond
control:-only in spirit of innovation-unsettle the the last instance I think it would have whole instrument and place in been much better to have introduced jeopardy the best principles of church synodical representation, and thus order; to say nothing of the doctrines stop the spirit of innovation as soon contained in our confession of faith. as possible. But never let the radio We already begin to feel the unfa- cal principles of Presbyterianism be vorable infuence of such a course. invaded. One precedent of this kind In 1818 the spirit of innovation be will soon be followed by another and gan, under the almost hallowed name another, until the Assembly will meet of reform. The ratio of represen- to revise, not the proceedings of lower tation was altered. In 1819 the courts, but its own laws and princiwhole constitution of government ples of government.
I am aware that the force of the date of my last, I bade adieu to argument, derived from the influence London; and felt both regret and of precedent, depends upon two joy in doing so. Regret, at leaving things-the character of the altera- the busy metropolis of the world (as tion—and the prospect of further in- London, regarding influence and novation. Now test the argument magnitude together, may be called) by these two considerations-and it having seen so little of it--Joy at the should lead us to pause and think well thought of making progress towards before we touch a vital principle of home. The weather during my stay, our constitution. Let not the abuse was raw and rainy, and this, with of a good principle lead us to ex. rather over exertion, to make the punge it from our system. While most of my time in seeing and hearthere remains a remedy consistent ing, seemed to operate rather unfawith presbyterianism, let it be ap: vourably on my health; which made plied. But when there can be found me the more willing to get away. RO remedy, without breaking in Having derived so much benefit upon those radical and tried princi- from the waters of Bagniers, and ples, it cannot be long before the being informed that those of Chel. General Assembly must cease to re- tenham were much of the same napresent the whole Presbyterian church ture, I determined to spend some in this country-Evils producing such time at this place, which is nearly a dire necessity must cure them in the route from London to Liver. selves by violence, or the body be pool, where I intend to take the annihilated.
packet for New York, the first of I am well convinced that the plan October. The weather, on the day which I have proposed will meet I set off, compelled me to take the with opposition. The attention of inside of the coach; which was a the church has not yet been directed great drawback on the gratification to the subject. It was introduced of seeing the country. We had gone into the Assembly at a late hour last but a little way from the suburbs, spring, and just upon the heels of an until my attention was taken by a untried alteration in the ratio of re- vast tract of heath country, level, presentation. There was of course desolate, and bare, except of cattle little prospect of even an examina- browsing upon it. To see such a tion into the principles, much less the wild region, on the skirts of such adetails of the plan.
populous city, strikes the mind as But it must be brought before the an astonishing contrast. Its surface, church, canvassed, and, I trust, though poor, did not indicate invinadopted.
cible sterility; and its state of comI might enlarge on several topics, mons, I was told, is owing to its oribut you now have possession of my ginal grant as such; which offers object, and some of the most promi- some legal barriers in the way of its nent views which I entertain on this being enclosed, and brought under very important subject.
cultivation. It would seem that what Yours, truly, was charity, in the first instance,
D. has resulted in great injury. The Feb. 26th, 1827
value of such lands as commons, is a trifle, compared with the benefit
which would result from their imTRAVELS IN EUROPE FOR HEALTH IN 1820.
provement. Could those waste
grounds be brought under cultivaMAN OF THE SYNOD OF PHILADEL
tion, and the product applied to the
moral cultivation of the poor, for (Continued from p. 157.)
whose use specially they have been Cheltenham, Sept. 16th, 1820. given, how great would be the gain, Dear Friend,Shortly after the both to them and the community.
BY AN AMERICAN CLERGY