« VorigeDoorgaan »
his disposal. If it is his own, out any revelation. The nature and he has the requisite qualifi- of things and that which is suit. cations of a governor, his right to able in itself are not altered by govern it is indisputable. With the publication of a law. Such regard to his qualifications both a character, as that of the Most for natural and moral govern-High, always did and always ment, there can be no doubt. will deserve to be loved, aside His goodness, and knowledge, from the consideration of any and power are fully adequate to revealed law; and it always was the undertaking. His goodness and always will be wrong to rewill dispose him to do that which fuse to love such a character. is best ; his wisdom will enable Mankind would be proper subhim to judge what is best; and jects of reward and punishment bis power will enable him to car- in a future world, if they had ry that judgment into execution. never been favored with a revelaSince, therefore, he is, in every tion from heaven. It would be respect, completely qualified for wrong for them not to love God a governor, and since the world and each other, whether they is his property, in the most strict expected ever to be called to an sense of the word, he has a account or not. The propriety perfect right to govern it. of their loving is not affected,
As the Most High possesses because they are to be rewarded those qualifications, which are or punished. The heathen are, necessary to constitute a moral therefore, the proper subjects of governor ; so mankind possess moral government. Whether those qualifications, which are they expect a future state of exnecessary to constitute moral, istence or not, they are capable accountable beings.
of determining the moral qualiAll beings, which are capable ty of actions, and of distinguishof distinguishing between right ing between right and wrong. and wrong, are fit subjects of They feel conscious guilt, and moral government. Brutes are consequently, desert of punishnot capable of making this dis- ment, for doing wrong, as well tinction. They do not possess as those who are enlightened by all those faculties, which are revelation. « For when the necessary to constitute a moral gentiles, which have not the law, agent. They are, therefore, not do by nature, the things containfit subjects of moral government. ed in the law, these, having not But man possesses that faculty the law, are a law unto themwhich is necessary in order to selves ; which show the work of distinguish between that which the law written in their hearts, is morally right and that which is their conscience also bearing witmorally wrong. It is not neces- ness, and their thoughts the sary, that men should be ac- mean while accusing or else exquainted with the revealed law cusing one another.” Hence, of God, in order to their being it appears, that all men are unthe proper subjects of moral der a moral law. Those, who government. There is an essen- have not the revealed law, are tial difference between right and under the law of nature and the wrong; and man is capable of law of conscience. Those, who observing this difference, with have the revealed law, will be judged by that, and those who and praise or blame worthy ; if have it not, will be judged accor- he is represented in scripture as ding to the light with which they free, we may conclude with cer. are favored. All men, there- tainty, that he is possessed of fore, are capable of virtue and that liberty which is necessary vice, and are proper subjects of to constitute a voluntary, acmoral government.
countable being that he is caSome are disposed to excuse pable of virtue and vict-and themselves for not complying consequently that he is a proper with the revealed law, and with subject of moral government. the law of conscience, on account Some are not content with the of a supposed inability, which liberty of following their own inthey are under, of complying clinations, or of doing as they with them. It is one of the please. But what freedom could plainest dictates of common there be in a man's acting consense, that men are neither trary to his inclination? Do we, praise or blame worthy for doing blame a man for an action which or not doing certain things when he had no inclination to do, and they are involuntary and under a to which his heart was wholly: natural necessity. But the ina- | opposed ? Or do we ever judge: bility of doing right, which men a man praise-worthy for an actare under, consists wholly in ion, which is productive of good, want of inclination. If they where his heart is wholly oppo-, have a mind to do right, there is sed to that good, and it is perno obstacle in the way.
fectly contrary to his wish and Man is conscious of being intention. In such cases, a man free ; and he cannot possibly is no more blame-worthy, than have higher evidence of any the ocean is for drowning people, thing than that which arises from and more praise-worthy, his own consciousness. He has than the earth is for producing the same evidence of his free fruits. dom, that he has of his exist- But whether liberty of acting ence ; and it is just as absurd for contrary to a man's inclination a man to doubt whether he is be compatible with accountabili-, free, as it is to doubt whether ty or not, it is certain that he has he exists. He feels that he is a not this liberty. He cannot put proper subject of praise or forth an act of will or voluntary, . blame, reward or punishment. exercise which is contrary to He also treats his fellow-men as his present inclination ; because; such, and if they do right, he that would imply, that he wills praises them, and if they do what he does not will and that he wrong, he blames them. We chooses what he does not choose. have also the testimony of scrip-It is impossible that he should ture in favor of human liberty. be inclined the contrary way. In that, man is represented as a from that to which he is inclined. free, voluntary agent, and the It is therefore certain that man proper subject of reward and has not the liberty of acting conpunishment. If, then, man has trary to his inclination, and no intuitive evidence of his own one of any consideration or refreedom ; if he treats his fel-flection can desire such a liberty. low-men as free voluntary agents, It is impossible to conceive, that
an intelligent being can have a has been said, that mankind are higher degree of liberty, than proper subjects of moral governo that which consists in following ment. They have those faculhis own inclination.
ties which are necessary to conIt would appear very strange, stitute voluntary, moral, accounindeed, for a man to plead in ex table beings. They are possescuse for not doing right, that he sed of that liberty which is ne had no inclination to do right? | cessary to render their actions Or for a murderer to say, that virtuous or vicious. It is in his inclination to kill his neigh- vain to pretend, that every thing bor was so strong that he could takes place by such an unavoidnot overcome it, and therefore able necessity, that men cannot he was excusable ? So far is it do otherwise than they do, and from being agreeable to common consequently that they are not sense, that criminals are excu- culpable for their evil actions. sable, because they follow their This excuse never has been and vicious inclination in doing never will be acknowledged bewrong, that their criminality is fore any tribunal as having the always considered as commen- least validity. No man's unbiassurate with their propensity to ed conscience will admit it in jusdo wrong. It is therefore cer- tification of himself ; men will tain, from reason, from com- not receive it from each other; mon sense, and from scripture, neither will it be received at the that want of inclination to do bar of Cod. It will be swept good, is no excuse.
away among the refuges of lies. From what has been said, it Men are conscious of their own appears, that the Most High is freedom. They feel that they the moral governor of the uni- do wrong, and that they deserve
All intelligent beings punishment. They will have were created by him, and to him nothing to plead, before the trithey are accountable. He did bunal of Heaven, in excuse for not make the world, and then their evil conduct, but will unite leave it to the government of with the Judge in passing sen. chance ; neither did he create tence against themselves. man, and then leave him to obey It appears highly proper that the dictates of his passions with there should be a general reckimpunity. But he hath appoin-oning day. Many abuse the ted a day, in which he will judge mercies of providence, and misthe world in which he will call improve the talents which are all moral beings to an account. committed to them. Many He is abundantly qualified to sus crimes are not cognizable by hutain the important office of judge man tribunals ; and many crim. of the universe. His character, inals pass through life cloathed as it respects impartiality and with the garb of innocence. strict integrity, is unimpeacha- The judges of this world are ble. He cannot be deceived, for not always honest, and if they to him the thoughts of all hearts be, they are liable to errors and are known. His love of justice mistakes in judging. They canwill prevent his pronouncing an not know the hearts of men. unjust sentence.
They can determine the moral It further appears from what turpitude of actions only by con
sidering their tendency and gen- | take away, that every thing will eral consequences. But at the finally terminate in the divine great day of account every thing glory. Your sovereign sits upon will be adjusted. All will be the throne. His providence excalled upon to give an account, tends to all creatures and to all how they have improved the tal- ' cvents. He sits at the helm of ents which were committed to universal government, and noththem. All will be called upon ing takes place without his per. to render an account of their mission. He is a glorious naconduct. The trial will be fair tural and moral governor. You and open, and perfectly free who have made the governor of from all chicanery. Before the the world your friend, have tribunal of Heaven all crimes nothing to fear. He will finally are cognizable. They will then receive you, with a smile of inbe judged exactly according to finite benignity, to those blessed their moral turpitude. All char- abodes, where the wicked cease acters and actions will appear in from troubling and the weary their true light. The garb of are at rest. sanctimony will no longer conceal pharisaical pride. The hy-sinners be afraid. The day of
In expectation of this day, let pocrite will appear unmasked The hearts of all will be laid
your condemnation is coming. open to view.
Though you may now swim in things of darkness will be bro't
an ocean of pleasure, though to light. Then the judge will
you may be loaded with the
wealth and honors of the world, pronounce sentence upon alla
the time will ere long come, sentence, the justice of which will appear to all moral beings. be at an end, and you will be
when all these enjoyments will The true character of the judge called before the bar of Heaven will be discovered and honored
to render an account of your by the assembled universe.
conduct. Though you may In expectation of this solemn day, let Christians rejoice.- put far away the evil day, it will The day of your redemption is tions of eternity are no fictions.
assuredly come. The retribu. coming. Though you are now
You will know by your own despised and rejected of men, experience that they are dreadthough you are
The Almighty secuted, though the wicked tri
God will vindicate his own gove umph over you, the time will ere
ernment. As sure as he sits long come, when you shall be delivered from the malice of upon the throne, he will not let
wickedness go unpunished. If your enemies, and when your Saviour shall call them to give judge will be inexorable. He
you remain impenitent, your an account of their conduct. Though many things are myste
will turn to you, with a look rious and gloomy, though virtue
which will fill your souls with is oppressed and vice triumphs, the regions of despair.
horror, and will consign you to you may rest assured, that every thing will soon be rectified. In expectation of a judgment You have this consolation, which day, let all examine themselves the world can neither give nor land see whether they are pre
atllicted and per- ful realities.
pared to stand before the bar of low in the light and comforting God.
influences of the holy spirit. "Thrice happy they who enter now
The grace of humility is so the court,
to the “ Heaven opens in their bosoms." Christian, that the dispensations Thrice happy they who make doubtless be such as tend to
of his Heavenly Father will their judge their friend. All
cultivate it in the heart ; his who have an interest in the atonement and righteousness of happiness will likewise increase
or diminish, according as he Christ, may look forward to the
cherishes or neglects this grace. final day of account with compo- To assist the Christian to grow sure and delight. All, who are in humility and meekness, let not reconciled to the Redeemer, him look at the example and atmust look forward to that day tend to the doctrines of his diwith anxiety and terror.
up as patterns of imitation a
mong mankind, and the nearer Mumility taught by the example any approach to their standard, and doctrines of Christ. the more honorable they are es
teemed. There is a character HAT man ought to be
presented in the humblea doctrine bundantly taught throughout the moral or holy state of the heart;
Christ, not only perfect in the whole sacred volume. All the but one infinitely wise and powdescriptions there given of the erful, one in whom dwells all inconceivable greatness, power, the fullness of the God-head bodwisdom and holiness of God, ily, who is heir and possessor and of the infinite distance be of all things in Heaven and on tween him and sinful man, teach
earth. This glorious person us to feel truly humble.
invites us to learn of him, for he Pride and humility are wholly is meek and lowly in heart. To opposite to each other. Pride him the Spirit was not given by is the operation of selfishness, measure, and we are in no danhumility of true evangelical be- ger of being led into error, by nevolence. Without a humble his example in any period of his temper there can be no true re- life. ligion ; neither will man ever The history which we have of be reconciled to take his proper the early part of his life is short. place, as he stands related to His parents were poor, his reGod and creatures. Perhaps puted father was a carpenter ; there is nothing in which our but he, in all dutiful obedience, hearts more deceive us than in submitted to them, and it is prothe secret windings and opera- | bable wrought with his father at tions of pride. Men may be his occupation. Here we see proud of their spiritual gifts, of the amiable fruits of a holy, betheir religion, and even of their nevolent and humble temper,-supposed humility. This may His greatness did not fiil him be a reason why God sees it with high ideas of self-imporbest to keep many Christianstance, render him disobedient, or