Imatges de pàgina


How many

understands? He knows better than any one else how to sow the seeds of discord, and to kindle the fires of strife; and. with his former love changed into hatred, which is usually of the most malignant kind, what injury may not be expected from him, which it is in his power to inflict? Bring this subject, brethren, within the range


your individual observation. Select us one instance of illustration, any case of backsliding that occurs to mind, and mark its effects. You may see one whom you once knew, perhaps, as a lively and devout christian, having influence in some flourishing society, whose interests he aided to build up. Now he is the most violent and bitter of all the enemies of the cause, in his reproaches against the institutions and the people he once loved. None try more to

and injure them. Relatives, possibly, and particular friends, are won over to his interests, and roused, by his insidious efforts, to array themselves as his advocates and supporters against the Church. Disaffections, divisions and strife, follow in their train. And whole societies, as we have before said, are hurried into scenes of turmoil, and in many instances their most encouraging prospects are ruined. Nor is this all.

ed. Nor is this all. Sinners, who, but for these calamities, might have been brought to seek the Lord, are disgusted and turned out of the way. Weak professors are offended. Scoffers are encouraged to mock on. Infidels triumph. And the sacred interests of religion are held up to obloquy and reproach.

such scenes have been witnessed which may be traced to the backslidings of professors as their legitimate source? Who can reckon the amount of evil which has resulted from them? What blasphemies and profanations, what corruptions, what prostrations of the cause of truth and piety, would have been hid forever, had all the backsliding which have occurred been prevented?

This is the duty strongly urged in the text. Are we, brethren, sufficiently interested in this part of our work? Or do we not too easily give up the backslider? It was a maxim with the Romans, that he who saved a citizen did a more noble act than he who slew an enemy.

Let us not forget that he who saves a backsliding brother does an act vastly more important in its connexions and consequences, than he who wins over à soul from the ranks of the enemy

Let me not be misunderstood. I do not mean to say, that we should seek to save an offending brother in the church without repentance and reformation. I have already said, when it becomes evident that one is past recovery, the very duty implied in the text, requires that, for the salvation of the other members of the body, he should be removed. But do we in all cases take that deep interest in this subject which its importance requires? Do we sufficiently endeavor by all possible means, to bring to repentance and reformation those we see going astray? Let us not be unmindful of the duty. The honor of God and the happiness of thousands are concerned in it. May GOD HELP US TO BE FAITHFUL IN IT, AND ULTIMATELY BRING US TO HIS EVERLASTING KINGDOM, FOR Christ's SAKE, AMEN!





O my people what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

Micah, vi. 3.

The perverseness of man's nature, is exhibited in nothing so strikingly, as in the disposition which he manifests, to call in question the rectitude of the Divine administration.

This propensity prevails in the human heart, in proportion as its depravity remains unsubdued, and shows itself in every variety, from open and avowed rebellion and infidelity to the secret motions of discontent and the occasional murmur.-The principle enters into the composition of every evil temper, thought word, and action; and stamps them with all their deformity.

That the evil is extensive cannot be doubted, and how abhorrent it is to Jehovah, is apparent not only from the stern rebukes which many marked instances of it in the Jews called forth from the holy prophets, but from the tender expostulation in our text. people what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee ?. testify against me.' How touching the appeal.- And mark here: the accusers themselves are challenged to testify in the

However partial they may be to their own side, it is presumed that conscience will speak out “on God's behalf,' and the offenders must take shame and confusion to themselves.

In this discourse I shall attempt to meet some of the principal objections which are urged against the divine administration. And may the spirit of light and truth be imparted :

“ That to the height of this great argument

I may assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God with man."

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I. It is alleged, that the introduction of moral evil, and its consequent miseries, into the system, cannot be reconciled with the government of an infinitely perfect Being:

Ingenious and profound men, have instituted various theories on the origin of evil, and made many bold attempts to rid the subject of its difficulties, and to untie this gorgon knot by dint of metaphysical speculation, but how many of them have “darkened council by words without knowledge !"

Some have ventured to assert that God is the author of sinthat he brings it to pass by his own agency:- This we conceive is to destroy all human responsibility, to undeify Jehovah, and to open the flood-gates of infidelity, in all its forms.-Others assert that though God does not bring moral evil to pass by his own direct agency, yet it constitutes a part of his great plan.— A link in the chain of his decrees, and that it is brought about by his providential arrangements for the greatest good of the whole. This theory is liable to the same objections as the foregoing, and involves precisely the same consequences, though they are a little more remote from the premises. And others still, deny the existence of moral evil altogether; and affirm that there is no essential difference between what is denominated good, and what is denominated evil. This theory has been advanced by some who are called philosophers, of both ancient and modern times. But besides that it is disorganizing and demoralizing in the extreme, it is contradicted by the conscience and common sense of every rational

The truth of this matter unquestionably is, that moral evil came into existence, by the abuse of moral liberty and power, and that in a way not to implicate the Governor of the world in any respect whatever. This it is believed will appear by a careful consideration of the following particulars.

1. Man was constituted a free moral agent, had a law given him every way adapted to his moral power and was placed in a state of trial. Hence he was “ free to fall,” and the introduction of moral evil was possible. Now will it be pretended, that there was any thing inconsistent with the Divine perfections in creating such a being, and placing him in such circumstances ? Especially as he was made « sufficient to have stood,” there being no defect in his moral nature, through which his defection was made a necessary consequence. If indeed on any principle, either that of the decrees and agency of God, the weakness of his own nature, or the power of the motives presented to his mind, it was rendered impossible for him to avoid transgression, this would alter the case. Had man been constrained by force of unavoidable circumstances, or invincible power : Had he been placed under any physical or moral necessity to depart from his allegiance, his Maker alone must have been chargeable with the consequences, and of course


the objection would stand.—But should it be plead that the goodness and justice of God would require that man's agency should have been overruled, or destroyed, if his fall could not have been otherwise prevented : this we contend would have been to undo or subvert the work which God had himself pronounced "

very good," and to exhibit weakness inconsistent with the character of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.

2. The will of God was clearly and explicitly revealed to man. The simple and plain prohibition of Heaven, “thou shalt not eat of it” could not well have been misunderstood. Had no clear intimation of the Divine pleasure been made, had the nature of the law or its requirements, not been sufficiently developed to the understanding of man, he could not have been responsible for his act, or justly chargeable with its


This however was not the case. 3. The deleterious consequences were fully set before him. It was fully in the face of this tremendous declaration, in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” that our guilty mother “ took of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and did eat, and gave also to her husband and he did eat !"- They did not do it in ignorance of the certain ruin they would thereby bring upon themselves : They were not left blind-folded to stumble and fall into the ditch. No room was left even for a rational doubt with regard to the sad result. And it was under this full blaze of light, that they made the fatal experiment which “ brought death into the world and all our woes.

“ Blame not the bowels of the Deity,
Man shall be blessed as far as man permits,-
Heaven wills our happiness, allows our doom,
Invites us ardently but not compels.
Heaven but persuades, almighty man decrees
Man is the maker of immortal fates

Man falls by man, if finally he falls." What more the Creator could have done, to prevent the introduction of moral evil, consistently with the principles of his government, and the moral responsibility of man, we are unable to

And of course we see no just ground on which the objection can be sustained. Indeed we have never seen a conclusive argument to prove, that God could not, consistently with the perfections of his nature, constitute a free moral agent ;—give him a law, -set rational motives before him to induce him to keep it,—and then leave him to the exercise of his own free choice with regard

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We never could see how God must be obliged to reduce his creatures to a mere irresponsible machine, in order to save himself from the imputation of being the cause of his fault. All this is a. species of metaphysics too refined for us.

II. The unequal distribution of the blessings of Providence, and the means of grace, is made a matter of objection to the Divine administration.

--Some are elevated to the highest pitch of honor, influence, wealth and power; while others are depressed to the lowest point of poverty, infamy, and wretchedness some are endowed with the most penetrating and comprehensive intellect, are able to penetrate and unravel many of the sublime mysteries of nature, -as it were to soar to the heavens and walk among the stars; while others in point of intelligence, are but a trifle removed from the brute creation. Some are so circumstanced, as to have ready access to all the treasures of science and literature, while others are altogether without the means of mental culture, with their intellectual faculties locked up in the grossest ignorance. And finally while some enjoy the light of the gospel, and the sunshine of divine revelation ; very many are shut up in the grossest moral darkness and superstition. These facts, it is alleged, indicate that God is partial in the distribution of his blessings, or that he is, in fact, a respecter of persons. '

But let it be observed : 1. That happiness is not necessarily dependent on our external circumstances : that there is much more happiness in the lower walks of life, and much less in the higher, than we are apt to imagine that there is; very often, more contentment and real comfort in the cottage than in the palace :- -that there are a thousand drawbacks upon the enjoyments of those who indulge in ease, and riot in luxury and affluence ; and that there are as many alleviations, which attend the humblest and most wretched condition in human life, and it will clearly appear, that much of the disparity which appears among men, as to the things of this world, exists more in appearance than in reality.

2. That final happiness is not necessarily connected with the most elevated christian privileges; nor is final misery necessarily connected with the want of them.-Many of the children of the kingdom ” after being “exalted to heaven” in point of privilege, will be “cast out into outer darkness,” for misimproving the day of visitation ; while many who have never been favored with the external means of grace, improving their “one talent, showing the work of the law written in their hearts, shall sit down with Abram, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God." And consider,

3. That a man's responsibility is in exact proportion to his privileges, where much is given, much is required, and where little is given little is required.”—Men will be finally rewarded, or punished, according to their improvement or misimprovement of the blessings and privileges which they will have received: the man who has but "one talent,” if he misimprove it, will not be condemned, because he did not improve “five," but because he did not improve the one :"-and the man who has “ five talents,"

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