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THOUGH the following work
, as a Sysem og Divinity, has the appearance of being new, yet certainly it proposes no new foundation: for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ:-If we speak not according to this word (Christ) it is because there is no light in us;- but if we are led by this lighi, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day and for ever, much darkness is discovered in our most approved modern systems; and it will appear that our maita er-builders, if any may be called such beside the Prophets and Apostles, have, in a great measure, builded aside from the foundation, and must there. fore suffer loss.
It is certain that the work not framed accord. ing to the true and only foundation, though the study and labour of ages will not profit men; and the torch of divine revelation cannot be too soon applied to the vast pile which shall set it all on flame; and though the hand or instrument to do this must expect to be treated by many as a vile incendiary, yet he will deserve well of the world of mankind; for let the hay, wood and ftubble be consumed, and the light of the divine foundation, and the gold, silver and precious
stones, builded thereon, will break forth as the lightning, and shine through the earth.
Many Systems of Divinity, though called Christian, bear no character of truth—they do not respect the foundation in one essential point of view. With these we have no concern—they are not objects of our attention—God will judge them and their authors, and blot their name and remembrance from the city of God: But there are others which do, in fome essential view, regard the glorious foundation ; and though greatly faulty, in not observing its full measure, yet deserve our most serious attention—we are assured they will not wholly fail, though tried by fire ; and their authors will be saved in the day of the Lord.
Among these, the works founded on the basis of pure benevolence, and unfolding in what are called the Doctrines of Grace, have the preference.A line of truth has been drawn from this divine doctrine, with the demonstration of the fpirit, for which, in the American world, we have been greatly indebted to the labours of President Edwards and Doctor Hopkins. But the works of these divines, the latter especially*, being brought forward as whole systems, too apparently mistake one character of the divine principie for the whole body of light; consequently the proposed foundation, not being sufficiently broad to support the whole fabrick, a great part of it falls into a pile ;
* President Edwards did not offer his works as a system, but by many they have been confidered as such, and expressly as aving ihe doctrine of benevolence for their foundation,
and, under examination, the mind becomes oppressed, and is overwhelmed with the detail of principles and arguments, which cluster every where like the stars; whereas the true system can afford but one principle and one argument.Divine benevolence is all important; it can never be too much contemplated or admired—it may be considered, in the divine system, what the natural light is in the system of nature; but as much as natural light is the glory of the world, any attempt to found the system of nature upon its light, instead of the combined strength of all its elernents, would be weak and fruitless. These works contain great and precious treasures, and should be confidered 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 system—this is an evil of great magnitude. I am, indeed, sensi. ble that some divines, who have taken this ground, have also acknowledged, that the divine system is something more than moral, and have attempted to thew it. Mr. Edwards supposes that Christ acted in the world under two or three diftinct laws.
Those attempts have all been complicated and a Gide from the general argument, which apa pears every where of a moral nature, and have therefore made little or no impression.
This has long been observed with great grief by many lovers of Jesus Christ's righteoufness; and the influence of this mistake in diverting the mind from the infinitely glorious subject of Jesus Christ and him crucified, to meie moral principles, and the merit or demerit of creature exercises, has been very apparent and alarming. It is not conceived, however, that cur theory will oppose and suppress the spirit and genius of these works; on the contrary it will espouse and support their design and end, by laying open to view a broader foundation. And if, in this system, less attention is paid to the subject, which, for more than two centuries, under the several heads commonly called the Five Points, has chiefly employed the abdest divines; it is not because the subject is thought to be of small moment, but for the reason, that it has been so generally and fully investigated. Being solicitous to honor those works, in vindication of these much disputed articles of
I repeat it, that they do respect the true and only foundation, Christ the I ord, in their apparent design and end; and if we but touch the hem of his garment we shall receive virtue, and sha}l be saved; and so far our works have glory and praise.
There are many things which relate to the gospel, and which, indispensably, must be brought forward in connexion with it, which, however, are not the gospel itseis: Such are the articles referred to above, and such is the christian morality.-- Jesus Christ was brought before the Jewish couit, and Ronan governor, and accused of many things, to which, as transient matters, he made no reply; but
to one accusation he replied, and confessed the charje; and, upon which, he suffered upon the cross; he laid down his own life, for he suffered upon his own confeffion; which charge and confellion was this, that he declared himself to be a king, and that, in a future day, upon the ancient throne of Judah and Israel, he should reign over and judye the world.--And in his reply to this question, before Pontius Pilates Art thou a king “ then?” he said, To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth: this matter then of his coming kin dom is the truth, the gospel itself; hence our Lord called his doctrine, the word of the kingdom, and the gospel 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 Christ, 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:” Jesus faith unto him, — Thou haft said; which was his manner of giving his asfirmation, as we should say, yes; and he added, “ Hereafter” shall ye see the Son of Man filling on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven; in which manner, according to the pro. phets, it was expected that the king of Israel would take to himself his great power, and come and reign.
Upon this confession, the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He haih Spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye