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motives to exert our utmost endeavours to secure the one, as well as to evade the other, it is clear that we cannot seek for adequate motives elsewhere. If we are firmly convinced that those deadly offences which are committed here will be eternally punished hereafter, if we wantonly persist in them, by what fatuity can we be guided in deliberately provoking the penalties denounced against them? Is it that we presume upon the infinitude of divine mercy, and therefore “continue in sin that grace may abound ?" If we imagine the mercy of Go paramount over his other attributes, and that he will forgive us our transgressions, however perseveringly persisted in, we cannot certainly believe there will be any future state of pains and penalties. We must in that case conclude every sinner shall be saved, whatever may be his guilt, contrary to the express declaration of God himself.-For assuredly the blackest crimes ever committed upon earth, compared with the offences of such as wantonly persist in any forbidden course, can hear no proportion to the tremendous difference between perpetuity of misery and perpetuity of happiness.
Surely then, if there be any among us who, whilst they persevere against all cautions of conscience, in administering to the desires of the flesh, can, for a single moment, suppose such a course of conduct compatible with everlasting
fruition, they certainly never can conceive that those who have only exceeded them in guilt shall be consigned over to everlasting wretched
They must consequently be persuaded there can be no condemnation for the wicked. That there will be however, they will one day know by fatal experience, if they perish in their sins.
Moreover, if the obedient and disobedient are to be alike rewarded, in what consists the efficacy of a holy life? Where are our inducements for righteousness to be found ? If happiness is promised to virtue and misery threatened to vice in a future world, as just consequences of each, where would be the justice of putting them there upon precisely the same footing of reward ? The holding of such a desperate doctrine as this, is certainly to lessen one attribute of Omnipotence in order to magnify another. Besides, if God's justice is brought into question, so that we cannot rely upon it, how are we to rely upon his mercy? For where one attribute is deficient the whole may be imperfect. If the divine mercy were not guided by justice, it might reach only the wicked and be altogether withheld from the good ; since if the Almighty, contrary to his express declaration, would reward everlastingly those obstinately wicked to whom he has threatened eternal punishment, no conclusive argument can be urged, why he might not, by parity of reasoning, punish everlastingly the perseveringly righteous to whom he has promised eternal enjoyment. Where such absurd conclusions take possession of our minds, we may be assured that we have "handled the word of God deceitfully,” which
they who are unlearned and unstable wrest unto their own destruction."
We may rely upon it, that where such flagrant errors absorb our understandings and influence our actions, we have not “ searched the scriptures" with real integrity of purpose, “out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” We may however safely rest satisfied, even under every circumstance of uncertainty and doubt by which our minds may be perplexed, that no assumption, relating to the Deity, can be a rational one which makes him, in the slightest degree, inconsistent with himself. With him there can be neither incongruity, mutability nor imperfection. “The same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” If he were defective in one point, we could no longer have any security that he might not be deficient in all; which would be at once to confound within us every true notion of a God.
The sum of all then is, that in favouring our own guilt, under the semblance of magnifying the grace of God, we not only degrade his
perfections, but represent him rather as taking
pleasure in evil than in good; as threatening, merely to terrify, when he means to glorify, us; as bringing about the designs of his providence by artifices unworthy of his ineffable majesty ; in a word, as one whose assurances are not to be confided in. For to the righteous only does he promise salvation, whilst to the obstinately wicked he threatens “ tribulation and anguish for ever.” If his promises are to be relied on, why should his threats be despised, when we have no greater reason for despising the one than for relying upon the other? If however we really believe that his threatenings will have their consummation as surely as his promises, how comes it to pass that we are not more careful to provide against the terrors of the one by earnestly soliciting the divine grace to render us eligible for the other?
It is evident that we can not be joyful in our King,” so long as we continue in rebellion under his government. Whilst we persist in violating his laws, against the express appeals of our consciences, we are undoubtedly in a state of insurrection against Him; and under such feel. ings, as a consciousness of our insubordination must superinduce, we shall luok upon him rather with terror than with joy. It is only by doing our duty cheerfully, willingly, and with a heartfelt desire to do it effectually, that we can become subjects of Him“ who sitteth amid the
Cherubim.” Our subjection however, though it be complete, need not be slavish ; for we are not called upon to obey a tyrant who oppresses, but one who has abundantly proved his love for us, by perishing ignominiously on the cross, to furnish us with the means of Salvation and to supply us with the motives for exerting them. The King of Sion, let us remember, is he“ who was made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” In looking at the stupendous scheme of
providence for realizing and perpetuating universal good, we should consider that we are not called upon to obey a heavenly, as we are an earthly, King, merely to establish harmony and union among societies which shall shortly perish and be forgotten by those who follow them. The motives for our obedience are of a far higher character. The conditions upon which it is exacted are animating in a transcendant degree. Its results are beyond the rarest eloquence of words to display. We are to be everlastingly rewarded in Heaven for our obedience upon earth. We are to “ change these vile bodies," whose original glories have been obscured by that moral degradation entailed upon