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way. Such doctrines it is our duty to receive, on the authority of him who has revealed them. Revelation is not intended to set aside the use of reason, but to furnish us with the knowledge of truths which lie beyond its reach, and without supernatural aid must have forever remained in darkness. When those truths are made known, it is the province of reason to examine and judge of the evidence which proves that they come from God; and also to determine the precise import of the language in which they are communicated: but our limited faculties are not competent to determine what is, or what is not consistent with the infinite perfections of Deity. If, in a revelation purporting to be from God, there should be found doctrines which necessarily and unavoidably involved a contradiction, they could not be received as divine, for God is one, and his system of truth is perfectly harmonious. But that a revelation of the nature of God, and of his Providence and Grace in saving lost sinners, should contain things above our comprehension, is what all might expect. In our own existence, and in every thing around us, there are mysteries into which human reason cannot pry: much more may we expect, that in the character of the Creator, and in his moral government, there will be found things beyond our comprehension, which we must receive on His testimony who has condescended to reveal them. The conclusion to which these observations are intended to lead, is this, that in regard to revealed truth, having sufficient evidence that it is such, it is our duty to believe on the testimony of God, and wait for the manifestation of its rectitude, by its salutary effects, and the disclosures of that day which will reveal God's righteous judgments. The only method by which we can prove that the statutes of the Lord are right, is by presenting them to view, and shewing that in their nature and effects, they are adapted to our condition, and calculated to promote our present peace, and future happiness.
1. One of the statutes of the Lord which is adapted to the condition of men universally, and is calculated to promote their happiness in time and eternity, is that which commands all men every where to repent. The law, the transgression of which is sin, is holy, just, and good: it is the expression of the will of God, who is the Sovereign of the universe, in whom we live, moye, and have our being. The transgression of this law, supposes a heart hostile to the government of God, and unmoved by all the favors which he has bestowed. The rational natures which we possess: the opportunities of intellectual and moral improvement which we enjoy: the hope of escaping his wrath through the mediation of Christ: and obtaining the rest and blessedness of heaven, are favors which he has freely bestowed. Now to rise up in rebellion against this being, who is inconceivably great and profusely kind, is so base, and so unworthy of an intelligent creature, that repentance is the reasonable service of every transgressor. The condescension of God toward our degenerate race, has added strength to the obligations which bind us to the performance of this duty. The angels who fell have been reserved in darkness under chains to the judgment of the great day: but for erring men, God's coequal Son must leave the bosom of the Father; assume the nature of man degraded by sin, bear our sins in his own body on the tree; and die the accursed death of the cross, that those who believe in him might escape the penalty of the broken law, and become partakers of the joy and blessedness of heaven. Almost six thousand years have elapsed, since the first gospel promise was made to man; and during this long period, the wonders which God has wrought to effect our redemption, has cast much light on his glorious character, and filled with adoring wonder the sinless inhabitants of heaven. According to the plan of redemption, laid by infinite wisdom, and perfected by the Saviour's death, men every where are required to repent. The sinner violates the law of his Lord, his Benefactor, and his final Judge, by doing what he has forbidden, and by leaving undone what he has commanded; now what reason can he assign for such conduct? on what plea will he rely for his justification? He cannot say that his interest requires it, for he is assured that “the wages of sin is death-the soul that sinneth it shall die,mand cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” He will not allege that he is under no obligations to the Lawgiver; for in him he lives, moves, and has his being. His kindness, free and unsolicited, gave him a nature superior to the brutes, and placed him where he enjoys privileges withheld from many of his fellow men. Therefore, as all men have sinned, the statute which commands them to repent, is right.
2. The statute which requires men to yield themselves to God, is, also, so agreeable to the nature of man, and the relation in which he stands to his Creator and Preserver, that its rectitude cannot be reasonably questioned. That man yields himself to God, who employs all his powers of body and of mind, all his influence or weight of character in society, and all the wealth which he possesses, to advance the interests of the kingdom of God among men. Man was originally made in the image of his Creator. Love to God and delight in his service controlled all the powers he possessed, and engaged him in yielding obedience to his Ma. ker's will. But being tempted by Satan, the enemy of God and man, he fell from his primitive rectitude, took part with this grand enemy in opposition to the will of the Creator; and by his transgression subjected himself and posterity to the penalty of the law. In this condition his ruin, to finite minds, appeared inevitable. If the law which he had violated was just, the Lawgiver must either
tarnish his justice, and infringe his invariable truth, or inflict the penalty upon the transgressor. Man, who had now rebelled against his Maker, was of a rank inferior to the angels who left their original state of purity and holiness, and are suffered to sink in remediless ruin, and for any thing that we can see, might have been abandoned forever. Before the work of creation began, God was perfectly happy in the enjoyment of his own unbounded excellence, and must have continued so, had he left man to the perdition into which he had plunged. But as the heavens are high above the earth, so God's ways and thoughts, are above those of men. The plan of redemption was laid; and hope excited in fallen man, by the declaration that the woman's seed should bruise the serpent's head. Men multiplied upon the face of the earth; but each succeeding generation became more corrupt than the former, demonstrating that the world by its wisdom knows not God. During the long period which preceded the coming of Christ, wickedness in all its forms greatly abounded, and the feeble light which then shined upon men, was principally confined to one nation. But the coming of Messiah, the Deliverer, the family from which he should spring, the time and place of his birth, his reception among men, and the various circumstances attending his life, death, resurrection, and the Kingdom which he came to set up, were foretold by Prophets of different ages, so that all danger of mistaking the person when he actually appeared, was taken away. When the Saviour was born, it was of a virgin, of the family of David, and at Bethlehem. The sceptre was passing from Judah, into the hands of the Romans: the second temple was then standing, and the seventy weeks of Daniel were then closing. When he entered upon his public ministry, the words of Isaiah were verified, “ Behold your God will come--he will come and save you. Then the lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped." This Redeemer, by his obedience and death, finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. He founded the kingdom foretold by Daniel the prophet: “ In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Now, upon this foundation, eternal life is offered to every one who receives Christ as he is offered in the Gospel; and they are required to yield themselves to God as those who are alive from the dead. In common with the rest of mankind they fell in Adam, and by the violated law, are condemned to eternal death: from which they are delivered by the precious blood of Christ, * who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.” Now can we suppose that men who have been bought at such a price, will hesitate to yield themselves wholly to the service of their benefactor? In the provision made for our redemption, God has manifested a Father's love toward us; therefore he says, “If I be a father where is my honor, and if I be a master, where is my fear?” The sinner is utterly unqualified for the enjoyment of God and the employments of heaven, until he is renewed by divine grace: and being renewed, he delights in the service of God, and in the advancement of his cause among men, and will therefore cheerfully employ all his powers in advancing his kingdom in the world. The service of God is also the most natural and honorable employment of our faculties. He is the only being in the universe who is absolutely perfect; and the perfections of his nature, infinitely transcend the excellencies which belong to the most exalted of his creatures. Therefore the most appropriate and honorable use of our powers, is to yield ourselves to God: our interests in time and eternity demand it: and to this we are sweetly and forcibly inclined by the principles implanted in regeneration.
3. The statute which requires us, “ Whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, to do all for the glory of God,” is also right, and calculated to rejoice the heart. The apostle uses the term glory, to express lustre or brightness, when he says, “ There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory." When the word is applied to God, it is used figuratively, but expresses the lustre of his perfections, which when beheld, produces an effect on our minds something similar to that which is produced by the brightness of a luminous body. Whatever tends to manifest the perfections of Deity, and to draw out the benevolent feelings of our heart toward God, to whom these attributes belong, tends to promote his glory. If the object of our worship be sovereign in the bestowment of his favors; if upon us, who are all under the curse of the broken law, " He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy; and it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy,” reverence, deep humility, and a constant waiting at his footstool, should be visibly instamped on our character. Thus we will tacitly acknowledge, to those around us, that God is such as his word represents him, a being who does according to his will, in the arries of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. If it be a fact, that God has manifested toward us great love and astonishing condescension, in giving his Son to die for the ungodly, and in opening to us a door of hope, while fallen angels were left to perdition; gratitude, praise, and lives devoted to his service may reasonably be expected. This will manifest that we feel our obligations to so kind a benefactor, that we are aware of the ruin from which his grace has delivered us, and feel the constraining influence of his love. These dispositions shew forth the glory of God, while feelings of a contrary character are every where acknowledged to be dishonorable to God, and degrading to man. The manifestation of God's glory, is the highest possible end at which an intelligent being can aim. When the Almighty created this world, we are told that he made all things for his glory; and his people, saved by his grace, are to him a crown of glory and a royal diadem. Intelligent creatures, in all their actions, have some end in view; we can no more suppose a rational action without an end, than we can suppose an effect without a cause. Now as the glory of God is the highest and noblest end of human actions, if men do not aim at this end, it is apparent that they are pleased with what is inferior, and prefer it before that which is most exalted and noble: which is the indubitable evidence of depravity. The inference is therefore unavoidable, that to aim at the glory of God in all our actions is right; and as it is agreeable to the will of God, it must rejoice the heart.
4. Ae fourth statute found in the word of God, requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves; this is also right, and calculated to promote the peace and happiness of mankind. Man was evidently formed for society, and much of his religion is manifested by his conduct toward those with whom he associates. He is required to love them, not more, but as himself; to avoid doing them an injury, as he would the infliction of an evil upon himself. This precept is set in the clearest and most impressive light by Christ himself, when he says, “ All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them;" the rectitude of which has been acknowledged by men of all classes, and in every age and nation. In the ordinary and daily occurrences of human life, men need a rule which the weakest and most uncultivated can understand, and which the most unskilful may apply on every emergency. This golden statute refers him to the feelings of his own bosom, as the standard by which his conduct toward others is to be governed. The excellence of the rule consists in its adaptation to all the dealings of men, the ease with which it is applied by the most uncultivated, and the perfect rectitude of its decisions. Every man in the feelings of his heart, is a friend to himself; and though many do what is ultimately injurious, they do so under the apprehension, that at that time it is calculated to promote their happiness. The depraved propensities and ungovernable passions of men, often lead them in the forbidden paths of vice; when both themselves, and their neighbors feel the injury: but in the exercise of sober judgment, these excesses are condemned, and justice, truth and holiness approved. Then the rule will lead directly to that con