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of Lowell, a le appears that the Coalition Democrá Racendancy, and are shaping matters tionist, is Chairman the Committe selves. B. F. Butler
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Fately bestowed on ourselves, and on those intimately connectth us, whose characters and wants, whose sorrows and joys, eculiarly understand, and feel, than those bestowed on others. te feel, universally, what is ours, and what pertains to our conns, more, other things being equal, than what pertains to whose interests we less understand, and in whose concerns e less in the habit of mingling; so we feel, of course, more y the blessings, which we and they receive; the deliverances, opes, comforts, joys'; than we do, or can, those of others. Our near connexions are our second selves; and there is sometimes as little difference, and sometimes even less, between us and them in our views and feelings, than between them and others. Nay, there are cases, in which we feel the interests of our connexions no less than our own. A parent would often willingly suffer the distresses of a child, in order to accomplish relief for him; and often rejoices more in his prosperity, than if it were his own.
There is, perhaps, no solid reason in the nature of things, why God should be loved more for the manifestation of goodness towards one being, than for the same manifestation towards another. Sull, with our present dispositions, those acts of his benevolence which respect ourselves, will always, perhaps, appear more amiable than those which respect others.
Gratitude, therefore, or Love to God for the communications of blessings to ourselves, and to those in whose well-being we find a direct and peculiar interest, is an affection of the mind, in some respects distinct from Complacency; an affection, which must, and ought to exist in this world. As we can love God more for blessings thus bestowed, than for those bestowed on others; so we ought to seize every occasion to exercise this love, to the utmost of our power: and such occasions enable us to exercise it in a superior degree.
Possibly, in a future world, and a higher state of existence, all the blessings of God, communicated to rational beings, may affect us, as if communicated to ourselves; and our Complacency in his character may universally become possessed of the whole intenseness and ardour of Gratitude.
Gratitude, considered as a virtue, it is always to be remembered, is Love, excited by kindness communicated, or believed to be communicated, with virtuous and good designs, and from good motives; not for kindness, bestowed for base and selfish ends. In every case of this nature, the kindness, professed, is merely pretended, and hypocritical. The bestower terminates all his views in his own advantage; and has no ultimate regard to the benefit of the re
The kindness of God is invariably communicated with the best of all designs, and motives; designs and motives infinitely good; and is, therefore, a display of a character infinitely excellent. Hence it is always to be regarded with Gratitude. The good be
acceptable, except that which is voluntary; or that towards beings who did not love him, he could not exercise any Complacency. It is scarcely more necessary to observe, that beings, who did not voluntarily produce happiness, could neither enjoy it themselves, nor yield it to others. The seat of happiness is the mind; and the first, or original happiness, which it finds, is ever found in its own approbation of its conduct, and the delightful nature of its affections. But no mind can be self-approved, which does not first love God and its fellow-creatures; and no affections can be delightful, except those which spring from the same disposition. Its views of God, and its affections towards Him, its apprehensions of His complacency towards itself, and its enjoyment of his blessings; constitute the second great division of its happiness. But no mind can have delightful views of God, or delightful affections towards him; or be the object of his complacency; except that which loves him supremely. The third great division of this subject consists in the esteem, the love, and the kind offices, mutually interchanged by Rational beings. It is perfectly obvious, that these can never exist in any material degree, where the second command of this law is not cordially obeyed. But the mind, influenced by the love which is the fulfilling of the law, is self-approved, approved by God, and approved by its fellow-creatures. All its affections, also, towards itself, its Creator, and the Intelligent Universe, are delightful. At the same time, all its actions are productive of glory to the Creator, and of good to his creation.
Thus the law of God, by laying hold on this single great principle, has directed the whole energy of the mind to the production of the best of all ends, in the best possible manner.
From these observations it appears,
1st. That the Law of God is, and must of necessity be, Unchangeable and Eternal.
Our Saviour informs us, that heaven and earth shall sooner pass away, than one jot, or one tittle, of the Law shall fail. This declaration has, I presume, seemed extraordinary to every reader of the New Testament. To many it has, in all probability, appeared incredible. But, if I mistake not, these observations furnish us not only with ample evidence of its truth, but with ample reasons, why it should be true. A law, which is the result of infinite Wisdom and Goodness; which is perfectly fitted to the state, and capacity, of Intelligent Creatures; which requires the best possible Moral Character; which proposes and accomplishes the best possible End; and without which neither the Glory of God, nor the Happiness of the Intelligent Creation, could be established, or perpetuated; plainly cannot, and ought not to be changed. Were God to change it, he must change it for the worse; from a perfect law to an imperfect one. Whatever rule he should prescribe, in its place,
for the conduct of his moral creatures, must require something, which is wrong, or fail to require something, which is right. Neither of these could be just, or wise, or good. Nor could his Wisdom, Justice, or Goodness, be manifested, or even preserved, in the establishment of such a law; much less in annulling a perfect law, and substituting an imperfect one in its place. To give up this law would be to sacrifice his own glory, and the happiness of his Intelligent creation. These, united, constitute the very End, for which the heavens and the earth were made. In the case supposed, therefore, the heavens and the earth would exist to no purpose; that is, to no purpose worthy of Jehovah.
2dly. This subject furnishes us with one affecting view of the Evil of Sin.
Sin is a transgression of the Law: that is, Sin is the disposition of the heart, and the conduct of the life, directly opposed to what the Law requires. It is directly opposed to the decisions of infinite wisdom and goodness; to the best possible character; and to the best possible end: the glory of God, and the supreme good of the Intelligent Creation. Of all these the Law is either the transcript, or the indispensable means. So far as sin has power to operate, it operates to their destruction; and its native tendency would prevent the glory of God, and the good of the universe.
The evil of sin does not lie in the power of the sinner to accomplish his evil designs; but in the nature of the designs themselves, and the disposition which gave them birth; and must ever bear some general proportion to the extent of the mischief, which it would accomplish, if it were permitted to operate without reFrom what has been said it is plain, that this mischief transcends all finite comprehension. The evil, therefore, which is inherent in it, must be incalculably great.
We see this truth verified in the present world. All the misery, suffered here, is the effect of sin. Sin blotted out the bliss of Paradise; and established in its place private wretchedness and public suffering. The smile of complacency it changed into the gloomy frown of wrath and malice. For the embrace of friendship it substituted the attack of the assassin. The song of joy it converted into a groan of anguish: the ascription of praise it commuted for the blasphemies of impiety. What then must be the evils, which it would accomplish, were it let loose upon the universe; were it to invade the kingdom of glory, as it once intruded into Eden; and ravage eternity, as it has ravaged the little periods of time.
3dly. We learn from this subject the absurdity of Antinomianism. Two of the prominent Antinomian doctrines are, that the Law of God is not a Rule of duty to Christians: and that the Transgressions of it by Christians are not sins.
Sin, saith St. John, is the transgression of the law. It is a bold assertion, then; an assertion, demanding a warrant, which can be
pleaded by no man; that there is such a thing, or that there can be such a thing, as a transgression of the law, which is not sinful. Why are not the transgressions of Christians sinful? Is it because they are holy beings? Adam was perfectly holy yet one transgression of his ruined the world. Angels were perfectly holy, in a state, far superior to that of Adam: yet one transgression of theirs turned them out of heaven! Is it because Christians are redeemed? The mercy of God, displayed in their redemption, only increases their obligation to obey, and therefore enhances every transgression. Is it because God has promised, that they shall persevere, and that they shall be saved? This promise is an exercise of divine Mercy; has exactly the same influence; and, in the case supposed, can produce no other effect. Why then, are the transgressions of Christians not sinful? To this question they will in vain search for an answer.
Why is the law no longer a rule of righteousness to Christians? Is it because they are no longer under its condemning sentence? For this very reason they are under increased obligations to obey its precepts. Is it because they are placed under a better rule, or a worse one? A better rule cannot exist: a worse, God would not prescribe. Are not Christians required to glorify God? Are they not bound to promote the happiness of each other, and their fellow-men? Are they not required to conform to the dictates of infinite Wisdom and Goodness; to sustain the best Moral Character; and to fulfil the true End of their being? To love God with all the heart, and their neighbour as themselves, is to do all these things, in the manner most pleasing, and in the only manner which is pleasing, to God.
To remove a Christian from the obligation, which he is under to obey the law of God, is to remove him from all obligation to perform any part of his duty, as a rational being to God, or to his fellow-creatures for every part of this duty is required by the divine law. In other words, it is to discharge him from all obligation to be virtuous. What end must we then suppose Christians are intended to answer, while they continue in the world? Certainly, none worthy of God; none worthy of the mediation of Christ; none worthy of the Christian character.
Antinomians forget, that he who is born of God, loveth God, and knoweth God; that he, who loveth not, knoweth not God; and that this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. They forget, that Christ died to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
4thly. We are here furnished with one interesting proof of the Divine Revelation of the Scriptures.
It is perfectly obvious to all who hear me, that a book, professing to be a Revelation, must, whether false or true, depend in a great measure on its own internal character for evidence of its divine origin. The things, which it contains, must be such, as be
come the character of God. Many of them may be mysterious, and inexplicable; because the nature of the subjects may be such, as to transcend the human comprehension, or lie beyond the reach of human investigation. There are subjects, also, of which it may be necessary to know a part; and that part, though sufficiently disclosed, if considered by itself only, may yet be connected with others, whose existence it will indicate, but whose nature it will not at all disclose. When subjects of this kind are presented to us, we may, if we are disposed to inquire into them extensively, be easily perplexed, and easily lost.
But whatever is revealed must consist with the character of God; or it cannot be admitted as a Revelation. Some things also, contained in a real Revelation, must be plainly worthy of their Author, and not, merely, not unworthy; must be honourable to his character; superior to the discoveries of the human mind; and such, as cannot be reasonably believed to have been the inventions of
Perfectly correspondent with all these remarks is the Law, under contemplation. This truth wlll advantageously appear by a comparison of it with the most perfect human laws. I shall select for this purpose those of Great Britain.
The statute laws of that kingdom are contained, if I mistake not, in about eighteen or twenty folio, or about fifty octavo, volumes. The common, or as it is sometimes styled the unwritten law, occupies a number of volumes far greater. To understand them is a work of deep science; the employment of the first human talents; and the labour of a life. The great.body of them can never be known by the generality of men; and must, therefore, be very imperfect rules of their conduct.
In the mean time, multitudes of cases are continually occurring, which they do not reach at all. Those, which they actually reach, they affect in many instances injuriously; and in many more, imperfectly. The system of happiness, which they propose, is extremely defective; a bare state of tolerable convenience; and even that, attended with many abatements. They also extend their influence only to a speck of earth, and a moment of time. Yet these laws were devised, reviewed, and amended, by persons' of the first human consideration for learning and wisdom.
The Law, which we have been examining, is comprised in two commands only: is so short; so intelligible; so capable of being remembered, and applied, as to be perfectly fitted to the understanding, and use, of every Moral being. At the same time, it is so comprehensive, as to reach, perfectly, every possible moral action; to preclude every wrong, and to secure every right. It is equally fitted to men and angels, to earth and heaven. Its control extends with the same efficacy, and felicity, to all worlds, and to all periods. It governs the Universe; it reaches through Eternity. The system of happiness, proposed, and accomplished, by