« PreviousContinue »
he will fhew in the actual exhibition. And, furely, this commandment, fo given in charge to the minifters of Jefus, is the gofpel merely.
It is evident that good discouries may be made upon the fubjects of religion, virtue and morality; particularly, upon the divine perfections, human depravity, the decrees of God, dependence upon divine influences, the nature of exercises, the fhortness of time, vanity of the world, moral obligations, fubmiffion to adverse dispensations, and a future ftate of rewards and punishments, and numerous other serious fubjects, without embracing the gospel. The Greeks and other improved nations, poffeff d many very valuable instructions of this nature, .long before the gospel came among them. I fay that excellent difcourfes may be made upon these and fuch like important fubjects; and that kingdom and glory which lies at the foundation of the doctrine of Chrift, and which will foon be revealed, to crown the whole divine exhibition, be left out of view ; and they may be very ufeful, provided they be not fubftituted for the gospel. But this is another thing; the gospel is diftinctly the king's matter as really a matter of State, as was the fubject of the contest between the House of Saul and the House of David.
I mean not, however, to admit that it is proper for a minister of Chrift, in any difcourfe, to leave the great fubject of his embaffage out of prominent view: Paul could not do this. It may be hoped that, in this dark day, the lamentable filence which
* Pfalm lxv. I.
prevails refpecting the teftimony of Jefus, in fome inftances, is to be imputed to mere mistake and ignorance of what is truth;, and this is bad enough, that men fhould run and not be fent; that they fhould take upon them the infinite responsibility of this miniftry, without knowing what is their commiffion and charge. But it is greatly to be feared that, in most instances, the latent cause of the evil is that most malignant one which blinded the Jews, and made their elders and chief priests, whilft fitting in Mofes' feat, and holding the law and the prophets in the highest veneration, pronounce the glorious truth of Jefus Chrift's kingdom, blafphemy; of which truth Mofes and the prophets had fo clearly written.
Alas! How is it, that men who are charged with this commandment, to keep it pure, under the folemnity of a confecrating yow, should preach whole years about the gospel, and never fo diftinctly as to be understood, preach the gospel itself? And also write volumes of truths, and scarcely give one broad hint of the truth.
But notwithstanding this apparent mistake of the moral character of the divine principle for the principle itself; or, to fay the leaft, notwithstanding the great obfcurity refpecting the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the divine foundation; the many clear philofophical demonstrations of truth, from the proposed foundation, in the works particularly referred to, afford convincing evidence that there exifts in the divine fyftem, fome one difcoverable principle, which conftitutes and governs the whole, as really and demonftrably as the power called attraction
and repulfion is fuppofed to conftitute and go vern the fyftem of nature. It is evident that these authors wrote under such an impreffion, otherwife they would not have attempted to philofophize upon these fubjects. The attention once paid to the vortices, as abfurd as the attempt to found the fyftem upon that doctrine, appears to us, was of great importance. The ingenious writings upon vortices, led naturally to the discovery of the true operations of the fyftem; and, in the fame direction, our late reafonings upon benevolence, may lead to the ultimate of all our inquiries.
Being very familiar with thefe works from my childhood, they undoubtedly had an influence in impreffing my mind with the belief of the exiftence of fuch a divine principle.-But it was the discovery of the harmony and analogy of all God's works; and, above all, the declarations in the fcriptures, of the existence of a pattern of divine things, which was fhewed Mofes in the Mount, and which, if we will do the truth, we are exprefsly required to respect that led me fully to this conclufion:
And if there be a discoverable first principle in the divine fyftem, which is the exact type or pattern of the whole, and which, in one view, opens a vast eternity, and discovers the end of the works-of God from the beginning, no arguments are neceffary to fhew the importance of making the discovery of clearly defining the object, and of eftablishing the belief of it in the human mind.It is obvious that fuch an acquifition must have
the fame happy influence in unfolding the divine fyftem-in fettling disputes in divinity, and in harmonizing our views of these fubjects, that the difcovery of the rational operation of nature has had in elucidating her various phenomena, and rendering our views of those subjects intelligent and harmonious. And the one, as to importance, is as much to be preferred to the other, as divine and eternal things are to be preferred to a corruptible perishing world.
But, though I had formed the conclufion, that there did exift fuch an all-conftituting-allgoverning divine principle, and that it was difcoverable; ftill the question remained, What is it? and, what is its theory? I had ever been taught, and had confided in the opinion, that, though the divine Being was difcoverable, yet the mode of the divine existence was undiscoverable; and that, tho' a trinity in the godhead must be believed upon the divine testimony, yet no explanation of the doctrine could be given; and I had been so often and feverely rallied by my wife and greatly esteemed instructors, for asking the why's and the how's of things, that I had nearly concluded the queftion to be foolish; but ftill the thought would of ten occur to my mind," Do I, or can I con"ceive of any existence of which I do not con"ceive fome mode, true or falfe?" But I was conscious of the existence of a divine Being; this put me at length upon exploring and analizing my own mind, and committing to words, to myself accurately defined, what, and what only, I did corceive of a divine Being; the refult of which labor, to my own mind, has been fatisfactory.
I would not, however, be understood to fup pofe, that this divine principle has, till now, been undiscovered; on the contrary, I obferve, it has been as vifilbe as the fun in the firmament, and has ever been acknowledged by all believers in divine revelation to be a fundamental principle. Writers of bodies of divinity, and other large works, have ufually taken their departure from it; and we have commonly heard it remarkably expreffed, though not so much of late, in the introduction of the prayers and other religious exercifes of God's people, viz. That which was done in Chrift Jefus, for the redemption of the world, in the early age of eternity.
It is the ufe and all comprehenfive applica tion of a known principle on which we have fixed our attention; and, indeed, this is the proper fubject of all philofophy, natural, moral, or divine; and in this fphere men have made their most valuable discoveries.-The attractive power of elementary fubftances is no new discovery; it muft have been observed by every intelligent man on earth; the rational, exact, and extenfive influence of this power, or, what may be called its theory, conftitute the difcoveries of Newton.*
* Mr. Newton having discovered a theory in the natural World, and that all things were under one government or law, there ftopped; acknowledging a Divine Will that controuled the whole; but he did not difcover that the divine will itfelf prefented a theory, of which the heaven and the earth are the exact copy or fecondary operation; confequently his natural theory is imperfect, i. e. he does not by theory fully explain the phenomena of nature-he theorizes the movements of the fpheres, &c. but he does not theorize their existence, er