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and, under examination, the mind becomes oppreffed, and is overwhelmed with the detail of principles and arguments, which clufter every where like the stars; whereas the true fyftem cản afford but one principle and one argument.— Divine benevolence is all important; it can never be too much contemplated or admired-it may be confidered, in the divine system, what the natural light is in the fyftem of nature; but as much as natural light is the glory of the world, any attempt to found the fyftem of nature upon its light, inflead of the combined ftrength of all its elements, would be weak and fruitlefs. Thefe works contain great and precious treasures, and fhould be con-. fidered as excellent tracts of divinity, rather than fyftems.
But this is not the greatest evil attending the error of mistaking a character of the divine principle, for the principle itself; for as benevolence, which is apparently offered as the foundation of these works, is understood to be a moral character, of a mere moral nature, the attempt to found the divine system upon it, has given the whole too much the aspect of a mere moral fyftem-this is an evil of great magnitude. I am, indeed, fenfi. ble that fome divines, who have taken this ground, have also acknowledged, that the divine fyftem is fomething more than moral, and have attempted to fhew it. Mr. Edwards fuppofes that Christ acted in the world under two or three diftinct, laws. These attempts have all been comp icated and aside from the general argument, which ap pears every where of a moral nature, and have therefore made little or no impreffion.
This has long been obferved with great grief by many lovers of Jefus Chrift's righteousness; and the influence of this mistake in diverting the mind from the infinitely glorious fubject of Jefus Chrift and him crucified, to me e moral principles, and the merit or demerit of creature exercises, has been very apparent and alarming. It is not conceived, however, that our theory will oppofe and fupprefs the spirit and genius of these works; on the contrary it will efpouse and support their design and end, by laying open to view a broader foundation. And if, in this fyftem, less attention is paid to the fubject, which, for more than two centuries, under the feveral heads commonly called the Five Points, has chiefly employed the ableft divines; it is not because the subject is thought to be of fmall moment, but for the reason, that it has been fo generally and fully investigated. Being folicitous to honor those works, in vindication of thefe much difput ed articles of grace, I repeat it, that they do respect the true and only foundation, Chrift the Lord, in their apparent defign and end; and if we but touch the hem of his garment we fhall re ceive virtue, and fhall be faved; and fo far our works have glory and praise.
There are many things which relate to the gof pel, and which, indispensably, must be brought forward in connexion with it, which, however, are not the gospel itfeif: Such are the articles referred to above, and fuch is the chriftian morality.-Jefus Chrift was brought before the Jewish count, and Roman governor, and accused of many things, to which, as tranfient matters, he made no reply; but
to one accufation he replied, and confeffed the charge; and, upon which, he fuffered upon the crofs; he laid down his own life, for he fuffered upon his own confeffion; which charge and confeffion was this, that he declared himself to be a king, and that, in a future day, upon the ancient throne of Judah and Ifrael, he should reign over and judge the world. And in his reply to this queftion, before Pontius Pilate' Art thou a king “then?” he said, To this end was I born, and for this caufe came I into the world, that I fhould bear witness unto the truth: this matter then of his coming kingdom is the truth, the gofpel itfelt; hence our Lord called his doctrine, the word of the king. dom, and the gofpel of the kingdom.
Before the Jewish court, the high priest faid unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Chrift, the Son of God.The Jews understood by the name Chrift, &c. one who was to reign and judge upon the throne of David. To this he immediately answered, for it was his business in the world, to "bear witness "unto the truth:" Jefus faith unto him,―Thou haft faid; which was his manner of giving his affirmation, as we should fay, yes; and he added, "Hereafter" fhall ye fee the Son of Man fitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven; in which manner, according to the prophets, it was expected that the king of Ifrael would take to himself his great power, and come and reign.
-Upon this confeffion, the high priest rent his clothes, faying, He hath spoken blafphemy; what further need have we of witnees? Behold, now ye
have heard his blafphemy.-What think ye? They anfwered and faid, He is guilty of death.
And before Pontius Pilate the question was the fame, Art thou the king of the Jews?-Jefus anfwered, My kingdom is not of this world —If my kingdom were of this world, then would my fervants fight, that I fhould not be delivered to the Jews:but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore fard unto him, Art thou a king then? Jefus anfwered, Thou fayeft that I am a king: which, as obferved, was his yea to the queftion, and his confeffion to the accufation laid in against him to take his life. Here, also, as before the Sanhedrim, and the court of Herod, when he was queftioned in many words, or concerning various matters, he anfwered nothing: but as foon as this point is brought up, and this queftion is put to him, in every inftance he made an immediate reply and confeffion; for his errand into the world was to bear witness unto the truth.
Pilate was determined to let him go; for, tho he found the matter of his accufation to be a fact, that Jefus did claim, by the highest authority, to be the rightful fovereign of that ancient kingdom, and therefore, as by the charter given to David, Pfilm lxxii. 8. he was the prince of all the kingdoms of the earth; yet he knew that for envy the people had delivered him, and he had also fome apprchenfion of the divine afpect of the thing: But the Jews cried out, faying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cefar's friend: whofoever maketh kimfelf a king, fpeaketh against Cefar.And the
Evangelifts note that it was this faying that deter mined Pilate to give judgment in the case.
That this was the matter for which Jefus Chrift was condemned to the crofs is evident from his written accufation, which, ac ord ng to the Roman custom, in cases of capital punishment, was suf pended over the fufferer, and therefore called a fuperfcription, and which was this-The king of the Jews. And, doubtless, the truth for which Je fus Chrift bled upon the cross is fimply the gol pel. This is" that thing," that diftin&t thing, confelled by Peter, in two words,* Luke ix. 20, 21. as it was revealed to him in the words and works of Jefus, which he spake and wrought from the Father, and for which this difciple, Peter, was pronounced bleffed.
Hence the Apostle, in giving the gospel charge to Timothy, which is the commandment given to every minifter of Jefus, fays I give thee charge in the fight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Jefus Chrift, who, before Pontius Pilate, witneffed a good confeffion; that thou keep this commendment without fpot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jefus Chrift; which in his times he shall fhew, who is the bleffed and only potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords Here, then, the folemn charge of the minifter of God is laid down in the very article which Christ, as a witness to the truth, confeffed before Pontius Pilate, and which in a future day, called his times,
The Chrift of God.