« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
And as it has been shown that brotherly love, or the exer: cise of holy and virtuous principles, is the immediate cause of rational happiness in finite beings, even so on no other principle can we expect that this happiness will continue ; i. e. only on the continuance of the exercise of that holy and virtuous principle of brotherly love.
2. The same argument will hold good in the laws and principles of nature. Were that eternal law which has given order to the grand machinery of nature to quit its function; were the laws of gravity and attraction, repulsion and cohesion, to cease to operate, the whole planetary system would either be fixed in one state of eternal torpor, or else,
" Fly lawless through the void, Destroying others, by themselves destroyed." Were the sun to withhold its cheering rays, or should the gentle showers cease to fall for a short period, how soon must every thing droop and wither, or be congealed in per. petual frost. Were men and other animals to be deprived of food, or were the plants and trees to be plucked from their roots, they must dic for wantof nourishment. And if those natural things cannot be supported without their antecedent causes, shall we expect to enjoy moral and spiritual life without feeding continually on the bread of God that cometh down from heaven, where of a man may eat and never die?
3. In vain may the self-righteous Pharisee calculate that for the short period of his being " not like other men,” he shall be rewarded with an eternal inheritance with the bless, ed. And equally in vain may the infatuated bigot, who possesses a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, calculate that in consequence of his past experience he shall be exalted to particular and exclusive privileges in the world to come. Reason and scripture are both against them. We have no more reason to expect happiness in another world without the coatinuance of the exercise of brotherly love and affection, that which alone can constitute happiness in finite creatures, than we have to see the fruits of the earth, necessary to support our temporal bodies, grow without
cultivation or care of ours. " The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.*
But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath com: mitted, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him : in his righteousness (not for, but in his righteousness) that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dnethi according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live ? All the righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned : in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them (not for them, but in them) shall he die."*
From which testimony of the prophet we learn, 1. That those who are styled righteous, in scripture, may commit sin, and do as the wicked man doeth : if not so, the prophet has warned the righteous to fear where there is no danger. 2. The moment the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, he gets nothing for being righteous ; i. e. he gets nothing for all his past righteousness; but when he turns away from his righteousness he is no longer righteous, therefore all his past righteousness is not to be taken into the account ; it is not to be " mentioned ;” but in his sin he must die. Die eternally ? No! Unless he committeih sin eternally ; for the moment he turneth from his wickedness, " he shall surely live, he shall not die." And “all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him.”
No argument, I think, can be more conclusive, admitting this to be a true statement of facts, to prove the absolute necessity of the continuance of that heavenly principle of brotherly love and affection, in order to continue that happiness which alone can render life a blessing, or even make it tolerable.
Christ said to the Jews, “ If you believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." And again he saith, " Whither 1 go ye cannot come.” Why not? Answer. Because they were dead! And as there is no medium between death and life, so those who are in the state of the dead, except they be quickened by the life giving power of divine grace, have no power, of their own, to come into life. But the apostle saith, " And you hath he quickened who were dead lo trespasses and sins.". It is easy to see that the only consequence of dying, is that of being dead ; and if those who were dead in sin have been quickened together with Christ, then those who die in their sins through unbelief, may be raised to newness of life, by being justified through faith.
* Ezek, xviii, 20-24.
The only difficulty respecting this subject appears to rest on the expression, " ye shall die in your sins." . And those who can form no other idea of death than a dissolution of the body, and having been taught that the state of mankind is eternally and unalterably fixed at death, have stumbled at the word. Could such ones he brought to realize, that, according to scripture, "to be carnally minded is death, they would be under no necessity of looking beyond the grave for that death which is the effect of sin. But should any contend that some go out of the world in an unrenewed state, they ought to be admonished to "judge nothing before the time, till the Lord come who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.”* And could any one demonstrate that some go out of this world in a state of sin, yet they ought to be cautioned against limiting the holy one of Israel, or saying his arm is shortened that he cannot save.
Let them inquire whether it can be consistent, for that e. ternal priaciple which is the source of brotherly love, whose power knows no controul, whose wisdom and goodness con. sult the best good of every creature, to suffer a single soul to go out of the world in an unrenewed state, unless it be in the power; and consistent with the wisdom and goodness of that eternal principle of love, to renew that soul, in another state of existence !
The doctrine which we have had in view in the discuss sion of this subject, is, that holiness and happiness are in. separably connected. All moral beings are happy in the same ratio as they are holy ; and no being can be eternally happy, short of having an eternal principle of holiness implanted in the understanding, to be a governing principle in all moral actions : and so vice versa ; in order to establish the doctrine of the endless misery of moral beings, we must find an eternal principle of moral evil, to be the governing principle of moral actions.
* I Cor. iv. 5.
But I hasten to close my subject, and with it, my labours of love in this place, by an
APPLICATION. RESPECTED BRETHREN AND FRIENDS,
"He that believeth hath the witness in himself." We may therefore call all those whose hearts have been made warm with the divine principle of brotherly love, to witness to the truth of the doctrine here exhibited. You, my brethren, have felt the influences of this heavenly principle, and you must have been convinced that its source is an exhaustless fountain of moral goodness. You have experienced its happy effects in a family circle, you have felt its benign influences in a friendly neighborhood, and you have seen something of its divine efficacy in reconciling those of the religious world, who, in consequence of difference in sentiment might have otherwise been at perpetual variance.
It was this divine principle that called your ever affectionate brother and friend, to leave his mechanical employment in which he was useful on a small scale, to wield the sword of the spirit, being shielded by the shield of faith, presenting in front the breastplate of the Lord our righteousness, weapons that are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down the strong holds, razing the partition walls which have been daubed with the untempered mortar of pharisaical pride, thereby subduing the carnal mind which is enmity against God; by which many have been delivered from the bondage of moral death into the glorious liberty of gospel grace. “For the love of Christ constraineth us; bécause we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead ; and thac he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again”* Possessing a firm confidence in the goodness of the cause, and relying on the faithfulness of him who first called your humble servant into the ministry of reconciliation, he has hitherto submitted his worldly
concerns, with the cares of himself and family, to the libero ality of benevolence and brotherly love ; never as yet placing any estimate or stipulation, upon his labour in the mio. istry, but freely as he has received, he freely gives. And he has the happiness to observe that his confidence in brotherly love has not yet been misplaced. The free-will offerings of his brethren have been amply sufficient to support his growing family. And altho' they have not been sufficient, as yet to relieve him of every incimbrance, yet his embarrasments have been owing to misfortunes met with before he entered into the ministry, and not for want of adequate supporto
Permit me, therefore, my brethren and friends, on this occasion, in justice to my own feelings, and as a debt of gratitude due to the liberality of brotherly love, to recount a few of the many favours which I have received since I have been in this place. Notwithstanding I had spoken occasionally in public for about two years, yet from peculiar circumstances I had entertained serious doubts as to the propriety of pursuing the calling; and therefore had come to a determination to recede from the work. But in this I was soon convinced that " a man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps. For no sooner than I had formed this resolution, and for that purpose shifted my place of residence, my then present prospects were all blasted by the hand of hing who seeth not as man seeth. I was unable to continue my usual occupation, for the want of health. But having partially recovered again, so as to be able to ride, and from the nature of the complaint the pros". pect of my future labor remaining doubtful, I was morally compelled the second time to exercise my feeble voice in sounding the gospel trumpet which proclaims "good tidings of great joy, to all people." Under these circumstances, I was invited by your committee to preach in this place. I obeyed the call. And notwithstanding a late admonition which I had received from my Baptist brethren, -I was determined, by the help of God, to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made me free, and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” This, my brethren, finally led me to a settlement with you, and the kind attention and respects which have been shown me during my ministering in this place, is an evidence of that brotherly love and charity which ever are the fruits of the gospel.