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prehended, as the plainest princi- the first cause of all things.ples in any art or science whatev. There was no other being in the er. The way of salvation through universe for whom God could the atonement of Jesus Christ, have made all things. No intelthough it was above the invention ligent man forms any thing, withof creatures, is agreeable to every out some end in view.
And person's sense of public justice. can we believe that God would The truth of these remarks is cor- have commenced his labours withroborated by facts. Children have out some wise and good design? often learned the first principles We see evidence of design in all of divine truth, before they have his works of creation; and the inunderstood the first principles of ference follows, irresistibly, that he Mathematics, of Astronomy, of Na- has a design in the government of tural Philosophy, or any of the arts all things. But what design can, and sciences. Many have been what design ought to fill the mind taught the elementary principles of of the Eternal, in creating and true religion, before they could causing all things ? Nothing short tead or write. The heathen na- of securing the greatest amount of tions were generally in a state of general good, which centres in his rude barbarism, who heard, under- own glory. If therefore God restood, and savingly believed the gards the greatest, wisest, and best gospel which was taught them by object, he must have made all the apostles. No system of error things for himself, and he must can be understood with so little in- form and govern all creatures and tellectual effort.
all their actions for himself. This It is proposed, in this essay, to is the natural dictate of every perstate some of the elementary prin- son's reason, and agrees with the ciples of true religion, and show language of scripture. why they are so easy to be under The infinite and immutable perstood.
fections of God, is an elementary The existence of a God, who is principle of true religion. These the first cause of all things, and his are impressed upon our minds by mfinite authority, and universal his works. The existence of obprovidence over all creatures, is jects, and the revolutions in naperhaps the first and most obvious ture, fill us with a sense of his intruth in the universe. This is as- finite power; the existence, capacserted in the phrase, “ his eternal ities and enjoyments of creatures, power and Godhead,” which the evince his goodness. These perinspired apostle affirms, is obvious fections render him supreme in from the works of God. The most respect to creatures, and give him barbarous nations, in certain cir- the throne of the universe. They cumstances, have acknowledged give him authority to give law, and this truth. The existence and su a right to bind all creatures to conpremacy of God are manifested by stant obedience. the works of creation, and the The absolute and entire dependevents of providence.
ence of all creatures on God for The fact, that “the Lord hath their existence, actions and momade all things for himself,” and tions, is another obvious and elethat " for his pleasure they are and mentary principle of true religion, were created," naturally follows There is nothing that we apprektorn the proposition, that God is hend earlier, than the fact, that
every thing must have a cause of "
senseless tautology." its existence. We hear the in- son ever looks any farther for guilt quiry from the lisping voice of in himself, or in others, than a sinchildhood, who made all these ob- ful choice, or a wicked intention. jects which appear ? Nothing is In connexion with the moral amore natural, than to reason from gency of mankind, may be meneffect to cause. There is no idea tioned their natural ability to do more familiar to us, than that of their whole duty perfectly. This our natural dependence on God is the foundation of all law, and of for life, breath, and all things. We all moral obligation. It consists are almost involuntarily impressed in those natural talents which are with the truth, that we are not essential to moral agency, and sufficient of ourselves to think any which enable all moral agents to thing as of ourselves, but our suffi- do their whole duty to God and ciency is of God.” We are con- man, whether they have any heart scious of acting, and we know that to do it or not. This is one of the we move; but from our reason and most obvious truths conceivable. from revelation, we know, that we To deny it mocks all common are dependant on God for our ac- sense, as well as insults our own tions and motions, and that his consciousness. Unless sinners had agency stands in the relation of "
'eyes to see," and "
ears to hear,” cause, to all our actions and mo or natural ability to see and hear, tions. This is the voice of reason no person could help perceiving and of divine revelation. llow that it would be unjust and absurd the agency of God operates in mov- to require them to see and hear, ing matter or mind, we cannot either literally, or in the figurative comprehend. But the fact, that sense of these scriptural requirehe does do it, we can easily appre- ments.
It is absurd to suppose, hend. We can also see the utili- that a good heart is a natural talty and necessity of second causes. ent; because a good heart is virIt is plain, that no person can tually all that can be required. choose, without having an object The moral obligation of manof choice presented to his mind. kind to do right in all things, is an The wisdom of the First Cause elementary truth in the gospel appears in the existence, variety scheme. This we feel, in conseand disposal of second causes ; quence of our natural conscience, but no person can see how second which is a part of our rational and causes can be the first cause of any immortal existence. No moral action or motion, because this is agent can help knowing, and 00 absurd.
casionally feeling, that he ought to The moral agency of all depend- love infinite excellence for its own ant rational creatures, is another sake, that he ought to submit to plain and obvious truth. Of this just authority which is over him, we have infallible evidence, be- that he ought to love his neighbour cause we are conscious of its truth. as himself, that he ought to be We are conscious of choosing, and grateful for acts of kindness, that nó person ever looks any farther all selfishness is wrong and ought to in himself
, than the choice, for be avoided, and consequently that moral agency. To say free choice, he ought to do nothing inconsistent or free will, does not simplify mor- with any of these duties. Every al agency in the least; but is a moral agent has a moral sense, by
consulting which he is capable of thy God with all thy heart, and thy constantly knowing his duty in ev- neighbour as thyself;" and we are ETY respect. This knowledge of informed, that on these two comright and wrong binds every moral mands, hang all the law and the agent to do right, and avoid doing prophets.” Some, indeed, affirm, wrong. It is a divine and infalli- that we may have some moral goodHe maxim, that " he that knoweth ness without being willing to give to do good and doeth it not, to him up a less temporal or eternal good it is sin.” Our knowledge of the of our own, for the glory of God, divine supremacy and authority, or for the greater good of others : binds us to constant submission to but this is absurd; for this is the bis will. Our knowledge of the very principle upon which all true divine perfections, binds us to love obedience to the divine law is God, and confide in him with all founded. Dr. Ely, in a late serour hearts and strength, constant. mon published in the Philadelphily. Our knowledge of the divine an, has remarked, with much betfavours to us, binds us to constant ter logic than appears in the sergratitude. Our knowledge of the mon generally, "that a true Christdivise will, binds us to constant ian must be willing to perish for obedience. Our knowledge of our the glory of God, is a legitimate inown sinfulness, binds us to con- ference from the proposition, that stant repentance and self-abase. all righteousness consists in the ment. Every natural talent, and disinterested love of universal beetery divine favour, creates cor. ing." If the disinterested love of responding obligation to use it, in Paul and Moses, led the one to be the divine service.
willing to be "accursed from That all moral goodness consists Christ," and the other to be willing in the various modifications of dis- 'to be blotted out of the book of life,' interested affection, is an obvious merely for the sake of the salvation and elementary principle of true of their brethren ; most certainly religion. All our actions are either they ought to have been willing to selfish or disinterested ; but who have endured as much self-devial, can believe, that there is any mor- if necessary to promote the glory of al excellence in selfishness? Our God. Indeed it is impossible to consciences never approve of sel- conceive, that disinterested love can fishness, but only of benevolent af- be the least selfish, or that any modsections. According to the scrip- ification of selfishness can be right tures, love is the fulfilling of the in the sight of God or man. This law. And as all selfislıness, and will be more obvious from the exisespecially all religious selfishness, tence of acother elementary truth: is condemned by our Saviour, who That all selfishness is sin. As is an infallible interpreter of the early as we know anything respectdisine law, we know that nothing ing right and wrong, we know that but disinterested love can fulfil it. selfishness is wrong. Satan could Indeed our Saviour hath expressly not have conceived of a charge afirmed, that this is the sum and better adapted to refute the divine substance of what is required, in declaration respecting the moralexboth the law and gospel. No lan- cellence of Job, than to accuse him guage can define disinterested love of selfishness in all his religion.more fully and accurately than the The bitterest enemies of missions, pbrase, “thou shalt love the Lord never attempt to bring a higher
charge against those who are engag- sacred writers generally take them ed in missionary exertions, than to for granted, whenever they are accuse them of labouring for the treating on subjects of a moral nasake of honour,and glory and wealth, ture. This is the case whenever which are selfish motives. It is ini- appeals are made to the conscience. possible to bring a more de grading And human authorities always adopt charge against any person, than to these truths, or the substance of accuse him of perfect and constant them, as the basis of all law, and of selfishness. Those who believe all moral obligation. These are the there is nothing in religion, draw sincere milk of the word of life, their interence from the assumed which is adapted to the capacity and maxim, that religion is all selfish. apprehension of babes in knowlThat selfishness is the essence of edge : and it is easy to see several moral depravity, is the language of reasons why they are so easily apcommon sense, and agrees with the prehended. Some of these I shall universal practice of mankind, as mention, in the sequel of this essay. well as with the scriptures, which [To be continued.) represent it as the root of all evil.Every child adopts this maxim, when he complains of injury; which
For the Hopkinsian Magazine. proves, that we know that selfish
AN EXPOSITION OF ISAIAH, Ix. 7. ness is wrong, as early as we know any thing respecting moral conduct.
Of the increase of his government The doctrine of tuture rewards and peace there shall be no end. and punishments, agrees with the There can be no doubt that the common apprehensions of mankind. word government here implies the Though we art jependant on divine administration of the affairs of revelation, for a knowledge of the Christ's kingdom and the displays future destiny of creatures; yet of wisdom, majesty and goodness what is revealed respecting this sub- which it involves.
And peace in ject, agrees with the spontaneous the Old estament is frequently usdictates of every person's reason and ed to denote prosperity, and here it conscience. Sin and suffering are implies the whole happiness of connected by the plainest princi- Christ's kingdom. Government and ples of justice and righteousness. peace, as they are here used, stand No person can help feeling, that related to each other, as cause and sin deserves punishment. This effect. Wherever Christ extends feeling is impressed upon us in his reign, the empire of peace and childhood, in youth, and especially happiness is enlarged and confirmin seasons of danger and death. - ed. Happiness is the end of his From the obvious perfections and government, and we may consider feelings of God, we should naturally the one as implying the other. expect, that he would make a differ- The sense of the text then is this, ence between the holy and profane, that Christ's government, implying “ between him that serveth God and all the displays of God's perfections, him that serveth bim not."
wbich are made in its administraThese first principles of true re- tion, and the happiness produced ligion, are some of the most plain by it, is eternally to increase. and obvious truths in the scriptures, God, in his infinite wisdom, did or in the system of nitural theology. not choose to set up his kingdom in Indeed, they are so obvious, that the all its perfection, at the beginning.
But having planted it as a grain of the precurser of millennial spleninestard seed, he ordained to pro- dours. In prophetic vision, we can mote its growth by perceptible de- see thrones crumbling, and empires grees, in order that the glory of dissolving, and their elements combis power and goodness may be seen bining to enlarge and confirm the at every succeeding step, and thus realms of the Prince of Peace, till all 3 more full and rivid impression be nations under the whole heavens made on his intelligent creatures. shall be subject to his government;
God could have accomplished all and then the Church shall continue the ends of his kingdom by a single to increase with the population of effort of omnipotence, this one the world, till the end of a thousand erent could not bring out to view years, till the winding up this earthso much of the skill and power of ly scene, till all its members are the great efficient cause, as would a collected into one body, and their succession of connected events.- stations fixed for eternity. In this present system, omnipotence And even now its increase has and omniscience are, as it were, an- not come to an end. Follow it on alyzed and exhibited in their parts; through the trackless abyss of eterand thus brought down nearer to nity, and it shall continue to inour comprehension. The perfec- crease. I do not say it will increase tions of God are exhibited in ten in numbers. Happiness is its end. thousand modes and forms, of and an increase of happiness is all
which otherwise we must have been that is essential. And the nature : ignorant. As God is brought out of the human soul lays a foundation • to view in the results which he for an eternal increase of happiness.
brings from the opposite principles It is in its nature progressive in all in which he has given to matter; so its faculties. No bounds can be set
- from the continual triumphs of the to its improvement in knowledge. quista prineiples of his kingdom over those Every new idea which it gains is an af of darkness from his bringing or- accession to its strength. And it 1 der from confusion, good from evil, cannot rest till it has compassed all U and light from darkness, is he shed- things with their qualities and relagiding around the lustre of his per- tions throughout the universe—til! fections.
it has measured the heights and d* The sentiment ofthe text is fully depths of infinity. Antits capacije de exemplified in the history of the ty for happiness will keep pace with is past. The progress of the Church its intellectual powers. The facul
on the whole has ever been increas. ties of reason are the inlets of pleasing. The first ray of celestial light, ure or pain to the soul, according as which greeted fallen man, has, un- they are directed by holiness or sin.
obstrueted and unclouded, been And every new idea which enters de continually spreading and brighten- the mind of the perfectly holy, ridning into perfect day. But in pro- brings a new occasion of joy. So 11 - phetic perspective, we can behold long then as there is anything to be fastill more glorious increase-can learned of God and his works, so * behold a day in which the light of long will the soul be rising higher
the moon shall be as the light of the and higher in wisdo:n and bliss.sun, and the light of the sun shall be Of course, so surely as God is infi
seren-fold as the light of seven days, nite, so surely will the increase of visa in one day. The present glory of its happiness be infinite. the Church is but the morning star,
And the same truth is confirmed