תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

of our sins; to escape from the snares which sin, Satan, and the world have spread around us ; to trample upon their seductions, to deny ourselves, or to arrive at that state of sinless perfection, which is absolutely necessary to qualify us for seeing God, and for dwelling with Him ?

The question is, Whether a total ignorance of the dignity and glory of the Son, and of the Spirit of God ; of the relations in which they stand to the Father; of their union with Him in one essence and God head :-or the revelation of these awful mysteries, so far as we are concerned to know them, most effectually provides for the stability of our faith, for the animation of our hopes, and 'for the exertion of all our collected powers, in the service of God, and for teaching us to know that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord ? To know that the Son and the Holy Ghost are, by the participation of the same Divine Nature with the Father, equally qualified to discharge the offices they have undertaken, in the redemption of men, tends to invigorate our confidence, and to quicken our activity in the way and work of the Lord. Of many excellent performances on the subject of the Trinity, we shall mention only three,— Bishop Bull's Treatise of the Doctrine of the Primitive Church, con. cerning the Trinity; Dr. Waterland's Importance of the Holy Trinity; and Mr. Jones's Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity.

THE ATONEMENT.

That under the Divine government virtue will be rewarded, is generally understood to be a doctrine of natural religion, and the truth of it is readily admitted by those who claim to themselves the name of Unitarians. But is not the converse of that proposition equally certain, that vice or rebellion will be, and ought to be, Inished ? To affirm that man was originally made the subject of moral government, is to affirm that he was put under a moral law. If God gave such a law to man, it would be absurd to suppose that he was indifferent whether his creatures obeyed, or violated it. The giving of a moral law necessarily implies, that the actions which it was intended to regulate, were not things indifferent, or of no value in the estimation of the legislator; for had they been such, he never would have made them the subjects of legislation at all. As his will then enjoined the observance of what his wisdom saw to be fit and proper, the same wisdom and will require that this system of government be maintained ; and, as all laws are enforced by penalties, they require that rebellion against the moral government of God should be followed by punishment. No human legislator is unconcerned whether his law be obeyed, or transgressed ; and, were no bad consequences to result to those who violate the institutions of society, general disorder would soon be prevalent, and some great disruption of society must quickly follow.

If we suppose that the world which we inhabit is but a small part of the universe; if we further suppose, that the history of its moral government is either now known, or shall at some future period be known, to all the intelligent creatures of God; it is evident, that upon this supposition, the system of legislation carried on here, is, to the inhabitants of other worlds, as the concern of a vast empire with one of its small provinces. Were the standard of rebellion to be raised with impunity, in the remotest corner, the signal of revolt would be unfurled to all created intelligences. If the inhabitants are pure beings, they find their duty and their happiness strengthened. Though Omnipotence can never be defeated in the success of its arrangements, yet we know that God supports his government of rational beings, in a manner suited to their natures, and consistent with their liberty; and that rewards and punishments are the means he employs, to preserve the harmony and obedience of the different orders of which his universal kingdom is composed. “Of law,” says a truly great writer, “there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is in the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power. Both Angels, and men, and creatures, of what condition soever, though each in different sort and man. ner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy."*

That some communication has been made to the other worlds of intelligent beings, with respect to the revolt that has taken place among the inhabitants of this globe, from the obedience they owed to their Creator, and with

• Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book ), ad finem.

respect to the subsequent measures of the Divine conduct towards us, appears extremely probable, from the infor

on the Scriptures give us of the rebellion against God, commenced by some of the highest princes, potentates, and thrones, among the sons of light in Heaven; and from the interest which the Scriptures represent Angels to take in the affairs of men. They not only inform us of their disobedience, but of the consequences of it, their expulsion from the regions of bliss, and their commitment to the abodes of woe, where they are reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day. The rights of the Throne of the universe were, among them, vindicated by the most prompt and awful vengeance; and to us their history is exhibited, that we may know “ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." It is no wonder that those who deny the doctrine of the Atonement, should also deny the existence of evil spirits; for the admission of their existence must necessarily draw after it the admission of their punishment, and of the dreadful consequences of rebellion against God. Were the account the Scripture gives us of the fall and doom of Angels believed, the intoxicating draught of universal happiness and restoration, by a God, all mercy, would cease to lay the consciences of men asleep in the chains of iniquity.

It is of infinite consequence, that the equity and honour of God's moral government be supported throughout all his dominions, and that he be known to be the Judge who will, in every case, do what is right. A prince who would suffer his government to be insulted with impunity; or the laws which are calculated to diffuse happiness among his subjects to be wantonly violated, must soon lose that esteem and respect which are the firmest pillars of his throne. How then could the honour of Divine legislation, and the dignity of the Divine laws be maintained, were the Supreme Being to lay down his sceptre, and to acquiesce in the acts of disobedience committed by his own creatures; to acknowledge that his laws had been unreasonable restraints, and that his subjects had a right to resist them? In such a state of confusion, it is evident there is a complete derangement of beings. He who created and who preserves all other beings, is made dependent upon their wills, for the exercise of his authority, and his rights are made to bow to theirs. Nay, upon these principles the honour of God's moral government is gone for ever. He has given laws to his creatures, the sanctions of which ought not to be enforced, and the only reason why they ought not to be enforced must be that they ought never to have been given. Thus, as Mr. Fuller very justly observes, repentance is made the duty, not of the transgressor, but of the giver of the law.*

In the Scripture God declares “that he will by no means clear the guilty.”—Exod. xxxiv. 7. “ I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.”—Deut. xxxii. 41. “ The Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”-Deut. iv. 24. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and consome the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them: I will spend mine arrows upon them.”-Deut. xxxii. 22, 23. 6 Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the

• " The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and compared."-P.18.

« הקודםהמשך »