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and precious gift which so infinitely that because he has no original right enriches us, instead of increasing, to them. Nor indeed are the servi annihilate our original obligation re- ces rendered to him, but to the nasulting from creation? Wild and im- tion over which he presides, and it pious absurdity! Yet I see not how is the nation too on whom he is to the claim of human merit, can stop make his demand. He only acts short of adopting this absurdity. with the delegated authority and in behalf of the community, to guide its energies for the common good.

3. The equity of God's claim to our services without reward, is just as obvious as his right to require our service at all, or to bind us by any command. Indeed when I look simply at the divine government as it is and dismiss those circumstances from my mind which must necessarily be peculiar to human compacts, I find it impossible to distinguish, even in thought, between God's perfect right to all our services and his right to impose a single injunction. The remark is seemingly too obvious to need expression, that the whole foundation of God's sovereignty is totally different from that of human gov ernments. He is not an individual lifted from among equals, vested with a delegated authority to frame rules of action for the common good, and bear for a limited period, the sword of common power. His right is undelegated, inherent, and eternal; or it does not exist. It results directly from his relation as Creator. Yet I apprehend it is by overlooking this distinction, and suffering the thoughts to become entangled in the associations of human government, that any reflecting mind has failed to see the absurdity of human claims ou God for the practice of that holiness which he has commanded.

How, let me ask, can he command any service, unless it be strict ly due to him? And if due, it can not be meritorious. If it be not due, he can exercise no authority; and can only propose conditions of compact to which his creature may accede or not without the imputation of rebellion.

In human governments, the case is reversed. When the ruler requires the services of individuals, justice demands an equivalent; and

Vol. VI. No. 12.

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It seems a plain case, then, from an inspection of the foundation of God's authority, that we must either deny his right to rule at all, or renounce the thought of meritorious holiness in his subjects. The assertion of such merit, aims a blow at the subversion of his throne.

4. Should God see fit to annihilate a whole order of such perfect beings as the holy angels, who could presume to charge him with injustice? Who can affirm that he has not already done it?, or may hereafter, in some period in eternity? as he has given us no assurance to the contrary. Has he not a right to do what he will with his own; and are not they his in every possible sense? Has not existence been a blessing instead of a burden to them? and would they not pass out of being, indebted to him, and not he to them? But if holiness is meritorious, God is bound to continue them forever. And I see not but he would have been bound upon the same principle to continue Satan for a while in a state of fruition after his fall, till he had received his arrearage of reward for past holiness, or else to mitigate his punishment in due proportiou.

5. If holiness be meritorious, where is the necessity of a Redeemer for fallen men? The apostle assures us that if there had been a law which could have given life, then Christ is dead in vain. But why is it not actually so, on this supposition? In such a state of things, for ought we can see, God might consistently have reclaimed man to his duty, knowing that his law would in due time be honored by the reparation of this meritorious obedience. And thus

man might, in the perverted sense of the term, "work out his own salvation."

Thus, as it appears to me, whether we reason from the nature of our relation to God, or from other revealed truths which we all acknowl. edge, the equity of the divine requirement shines conspicuous.

But notwithstanding the clearness of Christ's requisition as expressed and illustrated by his own lips, together with its manifest equity; still it is but too obvious a fact, that men are prone to misconstrue and evade it. Let us next turn our attention to the reason of this fact.

Much might be said on a want of close and candid study of what God has taught much on our being in sensibly influenced in our conceptions of God's government by the analogies of human governmentsand many saving clauses might be inserted on the score of man's fondness for system and his blindness to the full consequences of the errors he may interweave. But I pass such topics, and hasten to what is doubtless the general and chief cause -the pride of the human heart. We are ready enough to arrogate a boundless dominion over inferior creation, and that perhaps on a false and tyrannic principle, while we are backward to feel our own obligation to that being who is Creator and Lord of all. Placed on the pinnacle of a lofty tower, and casting a glance on the busy world below, man is quickly impressed with a full sense of his own elevation. But when he turns his eye upward and gazes at the sun, though millions of miles above him, it seems at only a moderate distance. Thus pride works an optical deception on the eye of the mind and induces the most extravagant and absurd estimate of our relations to God, and lifts us to almost a level with the "high and lofty One." And then we begin boldly to talk of justice and rights and merits, as though the Almighty and Eternal Father were altogether such an one as our

"whose

earth-born potentates,
breath is in their nostrils."
"In pride, in reasoning our error lies,
All quit their spheres and rush into the
skies.

Aspiring to be Gods, if angels fell;
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel ""

What is there to which unhumbled pride will not aspire? and what will it not lead a mortal to arrogate ? It makes him haughty and domineering towards inferiors and equals, and insolent towards those above him.

It makes him as restless and rebellious under restraint, as he is scornful and overbearing to those in his power; as backward to a sense of gratitude and obligation, as he is pertinacious in the exaction of the like tribute. It blinds him to a perception of his relative grade in the scale of being. Like the child that gazes on the evening sky, and fancies the moon and the fixed stars all at equal distance, and none of them much above the cloud that sails over his head; so the proud man lifts up his eye to the firmament of his superiors, and sees earthly princes and nobles, and heavenly principalities and powers, and the great God himself, occupying a common sphereand that of trifling elevation. Hence he fixes the nature, and estimates the degree, of his obligations to God, by his human criterion, and that a defective one. Thus is he prepared to overlook, to misconstrue, or at all events to evade the plain but humbling requisitions which his Creatur and Saviour has righteously enjoined upon him.

That such is the fact, is but too palpable from the proud and selfrighteous systems which have been so

industriously framed and eagerly embraced, and from the arrogant and self-righteous spirit which pervades the nations of Christendom.

The guilt of this conduct, whether perpetrated by the industrious framer or advocate of a false system of belief and practice, or by the more obscure but equally proud recipient of this poison to the conscience, will

be seen as nothing short of audacious
rebellion against the king of kings,
when the dead small and great shall
stand before him. In language só
plain that a child may comprehend
it, he now commands all to serve
him with alacrity, and yet with a
heart prapared to renounce merit
to say, 'we are unprofitable servants;
we have done only that which was
our duty to do.' The man who
proudly refuses to lift his hand in
service til! his claim to remuneration
shall be acknowledged, or who fo-
ments rebellion among his fellow-
servants by cunningly insinuating
that the condition is unjust, and
ought to be reversed-that it is not
becoming their dignity to receive a
command but a sipulation; alas,
infatuated mortal, how will he an-
swer it to his Lord and Judge! He
can have nothing to utter but the ly-
ing plea of the wicked and slothful
servant; I knew that thou wast an
hard man, reaping where thou hadst
not sown, and gathering where thou
hadst not strowed.' And like him,
he must be cast into outer darkness,
where there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.

better. It elevates the soul and fills it with blissfull devotion to that glorious Being whose goodness we every where behold.

The fact that angels are a superior order of beings so far from diminish ing, actually enhances the exhibition of gratuitous kindness in prolonging their felicity. It is God who has given them their superiority. And where much is given, much is required. The mighty scale on which they have "wrought righteousness,” cannot change its nature by impart ing the character of merit. Their deeds cannot be more than commensurate with their powers received, and responsibility incurred. True, they have persevered, perhaps for millions of centuries, in a course of sinless perfection.. When Satan and his legions rose in revolt, they stood firm in their allegiance. When man fell they held on their glorious career. The universe will forever applaud their persevering integrity. Yet they have brought God under no obligation, and though deserving and receiving his approbation, cannot merit his thanks.' Of course they cannot claim a prolongation of being. They know too well their relation to the great Creator to think, like arrogant man, of instituting a claim, or like proud Lucifer, of charging God as a hard master. The murmuring thought, the ambitious lust, would hurl them from glory to chains and darkness. No, they pour their ceaseless song for God's daily and unmerited goodness. Though ages have rolled by while they have flown on rapid pinions to "We are a to do his will, still it is their delight spectacle unto angels." And why to appear in his presence and “ "say, should we not take a grateful inter- We are unprofitable servants; we est in the display of the saine exu- have done that which was our duty berant goodness towards them? He to do." It is the very life and triis the same God of whom the umph of heaven to ascribe every whole family in heaven and earth is thing to God, and arrogate nothing named" a family, knit together by to self. While they then are praisbands of tenderest endearment. ing God for permission to worship The more we extend our view of and serve in his courts on high, let God's kingdom, and expand our be- us unite in their anthem as they do nevolent and fraternal affections, the in ours, and thus as one great "fam

The view we have now taken of the relation existing between God and his creatures, in the discussion of this fundamental question, affords scope for some instructive remarks.

1. It becomes us to praise God for the exhibition of his unmerited goodness in continuing to holy angels their blissful existence. They take a lively interest in the displays of his goodness towards us, and strike their harps of praise over every new-born soul.

ily" shall we swell each other's delight in mutual praises to our common Father for all his benefactions.

2. We are affectingly reminded of the mercy and goodness of God in the salvation of repenting sinners. His mercy through the Redeemer lifts us from the pit and pardons our crimes. Thus pardoned, cleansed, and justified, his gratuitous kindness displayed through his Son, then elevates us to heaven. To say that we are indebted to God for pardon only, and that when pardoned, we receive the eternal glories of heaven as the literal reward of our own holiness, is to despoil God of half the glory of our salvation. Salvation comprises both these precious favours and if ever we reach the bright abode, we shall delight to unite with the apostle in the acknowledgement;"It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of his own mercy he hath saved us," If it is mere goodness that upholds angels, what shall we say of that mingled exhibition of mercy and overflowing love, by which the chosen of our race are elevated to eternal thrones. Were we the subjects of angelic purity, God might blot us from existence, and no being could say to him, "what doest thou!" But since we have sinned, and merited endless pain, and our reformation here at best but partial; to save us from woe and raise us to reign with himself in glory, is grace unspeakable. Eternity cannot utter it. Boundless ages shall never cease to swell upon the enlarged view of the ransomed above. And as the great periods pass on, and his views expand beyoud all earthly conception, his as tonishment at the mercy and good ness of God in man's salvation, shall grow with the progress of his mind it shall swell on his enraptured vision with the interminable ages of heaven. Angels will join in his ascription of "blessing, and glory, and honour to him that sitteth on the

throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Their united anthem shali echo in full chorus from one end of heaven to the other while eternity endures—“ not unto us, not unto us but unto thy name be the glory."

3. How futile is the attempt to gain heaven by our works. This is the fool's confidence-a spider's web -a refuge of lies which the hail shall sweep away. Suppose the vain-glorious wretch, thus attempting to scale the walls of heaven, already there, and clothed with celestial purity; he could not retain his seat one hour by right of merit. But he is neither there, nor vested in innocence. Here on this low earthcovered with "filthy rags”—-under a mountain of guilt, he is ready to sink where he shall rise no more. Yet he has the madness to dote on his merits. O the blind folly of proud and guilty man! What will not his haughtiness attempt! Yet what can be do. He is as audacious as he is helpless-as arrogant as he is worthless. His proud infatuation has blinded him to his only resource : and that grace which alone can save him, is the only thing which can open his eyes to his folly and his refuge.

If

4. The eternal punishment of the impenitent, appears just and certain. As God justly demands the unremitted devotion of all our powers, a single omission would be a sin we could never cancel. But the sinner is also guilty of overt rebellion. then he reject the offer of pardon through Christ, justice must consign him to punishment. The damned themselves must own their sentence just. "Every mouth shall be stopped.

Should they ever repent and become holy in the dark world of woe, their holiness cannot make amends for their sin. It can be nothing more than a discharge of present duty. Works of supererogation are impossible for even angels in heav

en-much more for the rebels in hell. And there the voice of mercy will never sound.

But instead of reformation, they will only add sin to sin. When the decree has gone forth-"let him that is filthy be filthy still," the spirit will no longer strive,—and reform becomes hopeless. The justice of God will therefore shine conspicuous in their eternal punishment.

How dreadful to contemplate an immortal spirit, going on forever in rebellion, and sinking itself deeper in the flames of hell. As there cannot be a more glorious prospect than than that of a saint in his interminable progress of knowledge and of bliss; so there can be nothing more overwhelming than to contemplate the everlastingly increasing progress of a poor guilty sinner in hell. We recoil with horror from the spectacle. Who then will dare brave the reality! And who can be idle or dumb, while there is hope of saving a soul from going down to the pit."

V.

The duty of Praising God.* Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men. Ps.

cvii. 8.

The works, in which the goodness of God is expressed in the present state, and for which we are called to praise him, are the works of creation and redemption.

This world is a stupendous example of the creative power and wisdom, and goodness of God. "The heavens declare his glory, and the earth is full of his riches."

His great power and goodness appear in the light of the sun, and moon and stars: in the various orders of creatures which he has brought into existence, and in the provision he has made for their

* Conclusion of a thanksgiving Sermon, -see page 463.

wants: especially in the existence of man, whom he made in his image, capable of obeying his laws, of enjoying his favour, and of seeing his perfection displayed in his works.

The goodness of the Lord appears in creation, not only in providing what is necessary for man and all creatures, but in rendering what is necessary, agreeable, so that they are induced to partake of it as a gratification, as well as for support. The light of the sun is not only useful, and necessary, but pleasant. The fruits of the earth are not only means of subsistence, but agreeable to the taste. There is a pleasing, as well as useful variety, in the changes of the year. "Every thing is beautiful in its season." A field, covered with snow in winter, considered in its associations, and appearance, is as truly beautiful as a field covered with verdure in summer. Trees filled with blossoms, are on the same principle, as beautiful in spring, as trees loaded with fruit in autumn. When we look abroad upon the scenes of creation, and in addition to the utility of every thing, consider how much there is to gratify the sight, the hearing, the smell, the taste, we must acknowledge that God is good. Like those pieces of coin, which are valuable not only for their intrinsic worth, but for their workmanship, all things are inscribed with the skill, the goodness, the image of the Creator.

His goodness is exemplified in social blessings. These are adapted to our joy in prosperity, and to our support and solace in adversity, to our interest, cur improvement and our happiness in all respects. His goodness is expressed in schools and literary institutions, which are so necessary to expand, and enlighten and enrich the mind. It is expressed in the blessings of liberty; and in the influence of government by which our lives, our property, and our rights in general are protected.

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