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scale, upon which we may measure humanity, completely eradicated; the quantity of being enjoyed by were all sentiments of reverence different individuals ?
and gratitude and love to the Most But if it were even possible to as High, as our God and Redeemer, at certain the proportion of existence, an end; and in addition to all this, possessed by different individuals, were the human mind endowed with we should be unable to regulate the attribute of omniscience, and a our attachments by this proportion: capacity for benevolent affection, because, as was before remarked, infinite in its intensity and variety, the affections are not founded upon and infinite in regard to the number speculative reasoning, much less of its objects; and were the beneare they founded upon measure volent affections to arise merely ment or calculation.
from the contemplation of abstract The benevolent affections of the existence, and be proportioned to virtuous man correspond to the cir it; then indeed the doctrine that cumstances in which he is placed virtue consists in love to being simin life; and to the relations which ply considered, and that this virhe sustains as a member of a family, tuous love is proportioned to the of a particular community, of civil share of existence possessed by its society, of the church, and of the object, might be true, but not otheruniversal family of mankind. He loves his father, his benefactor, his President Edwards, in another Christian friend, more than he does part of his works, makes use of the any particular person in Africa or following language: “To determine, in India, of whom he may have then, what proportion of regard is to heard; although the latter may have be allotted to the Creator, and all as large a share of existence as his creatures, taken together, both either of the former. The strength must be, as it were, put in the baof a particular attachment is in lance; and, according as the former fluenced not only by the importance is found to outweigh, in such proof its object, but also by the rela portion is he to have a greater share tion which that object bears to us. of regard ;" and this he supposes is This arises necessarily out of the agreeable to the nature and fitness constitution of human nature, of ci of things. Such a sentiment was vil society, and of the world. Nay, utterly unworthy of the excellent further, we may observe, that it and venerable president. Besides seems to be a necessary conse the impracticable and romantic naquence of the limited knowledge ture of the scheme itself, it hardly and powers of all created beings. appears consistent with proper feelThe contrary theory of virtue, how ings of piety. For according to it, ever plausible it may appear
from “not merely the duties we owe to its simplicity, is perfectly romantic. our fellow creatures,” but even the It bears no resemblance to any thing love and adoration which the Suthat ever has existed, or that ever preme Being claims at our hands, can exist in this world, or in any were to be adjusted by weight and other.
calculation." Were all the tender feelings V. “ If the apparent simplicity," which result from our relations in says Mr. Hall, "of this system be life entirely destroyed; were all alleged in its favour, I would say it the ties which bind individuals to is the simplicity of meanness; it is a gether as members of the same fa simplicity which is its shame, a mily-of the same community-of daylight which reveals its beggary.” the same particular association, ut Many false theories, both in sciterly broken; were all the sympa ence and in morals, have originated thies and peculiar sensibilities of from an injudicious pursuit of sim
plicity. It is impossible upon any of happiness or misery; and, therecorrect principles of reasoning, to fore, were the Author of nature to reduce all the virtuous affections, propose nothing to himself as an and feelings, and volitions of the end, but the production of happisoul, to any one disposition of mind. ness, were his moral character mereAttempts of this nature serve only ly that of benevolence; yet ours is to embarrass and perplex subjects, not so. Upon that supposition, inwhich are otherwise well under deed, the only reason of his giving stood by every one.
us the above mentioned approbation Faith and repentance, and love, of benevolence to some persons raand gratitude, and hope, &c., are all ther than others, and disapprobation graces of the renewed soul. Al. of falsehood, unprovoked violence, though they are inseparably con and injustice, must be, that he forenected, yet they may and ought to saw this constitution of our nature be distinguished from each other. would produce more happiness, than The scriptures distinguish them forming us with a temper of mere the common sense of mankind dis
general benevolence. But still, tinguishes them. Every attempt,
since this is our constitution, falsetherefore, to reduce the doctrines hood, violence, injustice, must be of the scriptures to their first prin vice in us, and benevolence to some ciples; every attempt to reduce all preferably to others, virtue, abstractthe graces of the Holy Spirit to any ed from all consideration of the overone disposition of mind, we con balance of evil or good, which they ceive to be better adapted to con may appear likely to produce."* found than to enlighten the mind; VI. If it be true, as president Edto subserve the cause of error, rather wards asserts, that the thing virtuthan to promote the cause of truth. ous benevolence “has an ultimate
The following remarks, from that propensity to, is the highest good of very profound philosopher, bishop being in general, and it will seek Butler, are so excellent and so the good of every individual being, much to our present purpose, that
unless it be conceived as not conwe will not hesitate to transcribe sistent with the highest good of bethem,
ing in general,” then it will follow, “Without inquiring," he remarks, that no affection or action can be “how far and in what sense virtue virtuous, unless the individual has is resolvable into benevolence, and distinctly in view, the happiness of vice into the want of it, it may be being in general. The advancement proper to observe, that benevolence of the highest good of the universal and the want of it, singly consider system, must be his ultimate object, ed, are in no sort the whole of vir clearly apprehended, in all his virtue and vice. For if this were the tuous conduct. case, in the review of one's own cha Whilst we admit that a man, by racter, or that of others, our moral the practice of virtue, promotes, in understanding, and moral sense, the highest degree in his power, the would be indifferent to every thing good of all who are influenced by but the degrees in which benevo- his conduct, yet we deny that this lence prevailed, and the degrees in is in every case, either the end, or which it was wanting. The fact the motive, by which his conduct is then, appears to be, that we are con determined. stituted so as to condemn falsehood, The greater part of Christians, unprovoked violence, injustice, and who perform their duty in obedito approve of benevolence to some
ence to the dictates of their conpreferably to others, abstracted from sciences, enlightened by the word of all consideration, which conduct is likeliest to produce an overbalance * of the Nature of Virtue, p. 7.
God, have no idea that the ultimate The foregoing arguments are end of virtuous action is, in every thought sufficient to prove that vircase, the highest good of being in tue, or holiness, cannot be resolved general. Many never dream of this, into any one disposition of mind, who are nevertheless eminent in much less can it be resolved into Christian attainments.
“ love to being in general,” or “beTo discover that virtue does in. ing simply considered.” variably promote happiness, requires
Ma@ntago more comprehensive views than most persons are able to take. Nor is it at all necessary that they should A few Thoughts on preaching the distinctly know, in every instance,
Gospel. the connexion between virtue and The gospel may be shortly de. happiness. They have a much more fined a revelation of the grace of certain guide; the dictates of con God, through the obedience and science, and the affections of their death of Christ, for the pardon, nature, directed and enlightened by sanctification, and eternal salvation the scripture. By this means, our of lost sinners : accompanied with own happiness, and that of others, a divine call to repent and believe are much more effectually served on Christ to life everlasting. To than if they were constantly in view. this the words of Christ himself,
Philosophers have frequently been entering on his public ministry, led into error, by a desire of simpli agree. The spirit of the Lord God fying our principles of action. 'In
is upon me, because he hath anointconsequence of this, some have re ed me to preach the gospel to the solved the whole of morality into poor, he hath sent me to bind
the “an enlightened regard to our own broken hearted, to preach deliverbest interests:” others, on the con ance to the captive, and recovery of trary, have resolved it into an affec sight to the blind, to set at liberty tion of general benevolence. Some them that are bruised, and to preach plausibility there is undoubtedly in the acceptable year of the Lord. favour of each of these systems, Thus it is written, and thus it bethough directly opposite. This arises hoved Christ to suffer and to rise from
the fact that, by the practice of again from the dead on the third virtue we contribute the most in our day, and that repentance and re. power both to our own happiness mission of sins should be preached and to that of others.
to all men in his name, beginning at But this is, in reality, a conse
Jerusalem. The apostles give the quence, not of the wisdom of man, same account of the gospel : “Rebut of a wise and benevolent con pent ye therefore, and be convertstitution of God.
ed, that your sins may be blotted " In consequence," observes Mr. out, when the times of refreshStewart, “ of this unity of design, ing shall come from the presence of which is not less conspicuous in the the Lord :" “ Neither is there sal moral than in the natural world, it vation in any other, nor another is easy for a philosopher to give a name under heaven given among plausible explanation of all our du men whereby we must be saved :) ties from one principle, because the « The God of our fathers raised
up tendency of all of them is to deter Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on mine us to the same course of life. It
“ Him hath God exalted does not, however, follow from this, with his right hand, to be a prince that it is from such a comprehensive and a Saviour, for to give repentance survey of the consequences of hu to Israel and the forgiveness of man conduct, that our ideas of right sins :» « Then Peter said unto them, and wrong are derived.”
repent, and be baptised every one
à tree :"
in the name of the Lord Je turned every one to his own way, sus Christ, for the remission of sins, and the Lord laid upon him the and ye shall receive the gift of the iniquity of us all. And as judge of Holy Ghost:" “For the promise is all, he exacted from him the punishto you, and to your children, and to ment due to our sins. For it pleased all that are afar off, as many as the the Lord to bruise him. “ He hath Lord our God shall call :” “Be it made him to be sin for us, who known unto you, therefore, men and knew no sin, that we might be made brethren, that through this man is the righteousness of God in him.” preached unto you the forgiveness “The cup that my father giveth me of sins.”
to drink, shall I not drink it?" This gospel is called the gospel The gospel reveals the original of the grace of God, because it dignity and glory of the Son, as the originated in the infinite benignity fellow and equal of the Lord of and goodness of God, and presents hosts, God over all blessed forever ; to a lost world an illustrious dis as also his divine love in undertakplay of divine grace. It is called ing to obey and die for sinners. the gospel of God, because God is “Lo, I come, I delight to do thy the author and original of all the will, O my God; yea, thy law is in blessings of the gospel. It is called my heart." It treats of the glothe gospel of Christ, because Christ rious person of Christ, God in our in his glorious person, offices, and nature. As none but God could blessings, is the great subject of the contrive this way of salvation, none gospel. It is called the glorious but God could redeem us from the gospel of the blessed God, or the lowest hell. Without all controgospel of the glory of the blessed versy, great is the mystery of godGod, because all divine attributes liness; God made manifest in the in this gospel shine with eternal flesh. beauty and splendour. And it is It sets before us the wonders of called the gospel of our salvation, his obedience to the death, and the because it is the means appointed infinite value of his blood to save to by God, to begin, advance, and per the uttermost them that come to God fect the salvation of men.
by him. If the blood of bulls and More particularly the gospel re of goats and the ashes of an heifer veals the eternal love of God unto sprinkling the unclean, sanctified a 'ost world. God so loved the to the purifying of the flesh, how world, that he gave his only begot much more shall not the blood of ten Son, that whosoever believeth Christ, who through the eternal on him should not perish, but have Spirit, offered himself unto God, everlasting life. For scarcely for
purge your consciences from dead a righteous man will one die; per works to serve the living God. His adventure for a good man, some triumph over death in his glorious would even dare to die; but God resurrection, belongs to the dispencommended his love to us, in that sation of the gospel ; and his fulness while we were yet sinners Christ of blessing, to be perpetually comdied for us. Herein is love, not that we municated to the church, is her loved God, that he first loved us, and everlasting spring of consolation. sent his Son to be a propitiation for The gospel reveals the Holy Spiour sins. From this infinite love he rit as one in nature and essence, and chose and appointed his own Son consequently one in counsel and to be the mediator between God
operation with the Father and Son. He laid upon
He concurred with the Father and iniquities, that we might be pardon Son in the everlasting covenant reed and redeemed. All we, like specting the redemption of lost sheep, have gone astray; we have men, and engaged to apply with ef
ficacy the redemption of Christ to in their present state, a blessed rethe souls of men. As none but medy of divine contrivance. As God could redeem-none but God Moses lifted up the serpent in the could apply redemption. It re wilderness, so the Son of man must quires that almighty power of God be lifted up, that whosoever believthat raised Christ from the dead, to eth on him should not perish, but raise a sinner from death to life. have everlasting life. The sting of The arm of God must be revealed, the serpent was mortal, and incuto convince a sinner in a saving rable by human skill ; it was to be manner of his sin, guilt and dan cured by God himself, by an act of ger. It requires the word of omni divine power and goodness; but the potent power, which commanded Israelites must trust the efficacy of light to shine at first out of darkness, the divine appointment: that the to illuminate the mind savingly | excellency of the power may apin the knowledge of the gospel pear to be of God, and not of man. the Spirit, by divine power and Mankind sinners must be called grace, presents to the distressed
and encouraged to look to Christ soul the inexpressible glories of exhibited in the gospel, trusting the Christ's person, righteousn and
divine institution for a perfect and atonement, for all the blessed pur radical cure of their diseased souls. poses of salvation; and enables the If it be asked, what is the necessity person to rest upon him with firm of believing in this divine Saviour confidence, for pardon and eternal Because Christ says, “ He that beredemption. The spirit of grace lieveth not shall be damned,” If it enables the person cordially to con be asked, what is that gospel which sent to the most humiliating acts of I am called to believe? It is a preself-denial and mortification, for his sent offer of grace and salvation sake—to cut off right hands, and to through Christ, to make you holy pluck out right eyes. Yea, doubt and happy for ever ; it is no offer of less, and I count all things loss and pardon, to encourage the indulgence dung, for the excellency of the
of sin, but an exhibition of mercy, knowledge of Christ Jesus, my to save from the pollution, as well Lord, for whom I have suffered the as the punishment of sin. But what loss of all things, and count them inoves God to make this gracious but dung, that I may win Christ, offer? Nothing but his sovereign and be found in him, not having my grace, having made known to us the own righteousness, which is of the mystery of his will, according to his law, but the righteousness which is good pleasure, which he purposed in of God by faith. But to accomplish himself. “I, even I, am he that parthis great and saving change, the doneth your iniquity for my own arm of the Lord must be revealed. sake, (impelled by my own good
In the dispensation of the gos ness) and I will not remember your pel, men are to be addressed as sin sins. For what end and purpose ners. Christ came to call not right-does God make this offer: To gloeous men, but sinners, to repent rify the riches of his wisdom, grace ance. I am not sent but to the lost and justice in the salvation of lost sheep of the house of Israel ; come men, and to lay a foundation of to me
and hope, joy and peace, to the sinner heavy laden, and I will give you believing on Christ. And that a rest. Let the wicked forsake his willing and cheerful obedience may way, and the unrighteous man his be offered by the renewed soul to thoughts, let him turn to the Lord, God as worthy of all praise, adorafor he will have mercy, and to our
tion and obedience. What is that God, for he will abundantly pardon. faith which saves the soul : It is
This gospel brings near to sinners, with knowledge and understanding, Vol. I.