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5. Some will, perhaps, secretly triumph here, as the Pharisee once did, because they are "not as other" wicked "men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers," and unclean; but, suppose the dart of sin has not wounded their breasts, are they in a better case if they run the sword of intemperance through their own bowels? Gluttony and drunkenness are the two idols to which many sacrifice the marrow and fatness of the land, together with their time and strength. He is a glutton, who eats barely for the pleasure of eating; he is a drunkard, who drinks for the bare pleasure of drinking, though he should be so "mighty to mingle strong drink," as not to discompose either his reason or constitution. The men of the old world were "eating and drinking," says our LORD, (as if that had been the end of their creation,) when God swept them away by the flood: the Israelites had yet in their teeth the meat which they had wantonly desired, when God arose and slew the wealthier of them. "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play," says ST. PAUL; "and there fell of them that day about three thousand men" by a fearful judgment of God. Yea, the very sin of Sodom is said to have been indulgence and fulness of bread at first,-Epicurism naturally leading into all debauchery and excess. Whether, therefore, you dig your grave with your teeth, and entomb in your own bowels that which should be the support of your family and of the poor; or whether, to indulge the lust of the flesh, or only to please and countenance your carnal acquaintance, you can spend the best part of a day in pouring drink-offerings into the shrine of Belial, which you carry about you; ST. PAUL describes your sin, and tells you your danger, in Phil. iii. 18: "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of CHRIST, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Observe the words, "whose end is destruction." Walk on then, O man, according to the desire of thy heart, the lust of thy eye, and the way of the world; pull down the judgments of a righteous GoD upon the land, upon thy family, and thyself, by the cords of surfeiting, drunkenness, or indulgence; "but remember, that for all these things, GOD will bring thee to judgment." O might we all, on this grand day of humiliation, humble ourselves, call for the atoning Blood of JESUS CHRIST, and be washed from this iniquity, before it be our eternal ruin of body and soul.
6. I cannot pass in silence the detestable, though fashionable sin, which, joined to the last I spoke against, has brought down the curse of Heaven, and poured desolation and ruin, upon the most flourishing kingdoms, I mean, pride in apparel. After the fall, GoD gave our first parents coats to cover their shame, but their children use them to declare their pride and even in this place, where poverty, hard labour, and drudgery, would, one should think, prevent VOL. I. Third Series. MARCH, 1822. X
a sin, which Christianity cannot tolerate even in Kings' houses, there are not wanting foolish virgins, who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and betray the levity of their hearts by that of their dress. Yea, some women that should be mothers in Israel, and that should adorn themselves with good works as holy and godly matrons, openly affect the opposite character. You may see them offer themselves first, to the idol Vanity, and then sacrifice their children upon the same altar. As some sons of Belial teach their little ones to curse, before they can well speak; so these daughters of Jezebel drag their unhappy offspring (before they can well walk) to the haunts of vanity and pride. They complain, perhaps, of evening lectures, but run to midnight dancings. If you believe them, it is almost abominable, to meet a Minister, to seek the LORD, and sing his praises; but they can, with a good conscience, meet a harper, and, at the sound of his harp, make their children go through the fire of Vanity, that Moloch of our days! O that such persons would let the Prophet's words sink into their frothy minds, and fasten upon their careless hearts: "Because the daughters of Sion are haughty," says the LORD, "and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, the LORD will smite with a sore the crown of their head, and discover their shame instead of well-set hair, there shall be baldness, and burning instead of beauty." Nor will the punishment stop here; for this abominable sin of vanity and pride calls for the judgments of GOD upon the whole nation that indulges it; and therefore the Prophet adds immediately; "Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy gates shall lament and mourn." (Isai. iii. 25.) Thus, this fashionable sin, which the God of this world represents as a piece of good breeding, according to God's words, will end in burning for those who commit and encourage it, and in destruction for the city or kingdom that suffers it, if speedy reformation, and the intercession of CHRIST, not prevent the operations of the avenging sword.
(To be concluded in our next.)
ON PRAYING TO JESUS CHRIST.
(Concluded from page 95.)
6. But it is objected, that no mention is made of the Divinity of CHRIST by the Apostles in their writings, and therefore they did not believe the doctrine.
It is truly astonishing that men who have read the New Testament should advance any thing of this kind; for the fallacy of such assertions must be apparent to every one who attentively considers the following Scriptures :-John i. 1, &c.; 2 Cor. viii. 9; Phil. ii. 6; Col. i. 16; Heb. i. 1, &c. ;—to which many others might be added.
It is worthy of remark, that ST. PAUL was greatly afflicted because of the Jews' unbelief;—he had great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart, on account of his brethren; and was ready to make any sacrifice, and to endure any temporal suffering, in order to effect their conversion. (Rom. ix. 1, &c.) He also well knew that they were greatly offended with CHRIST, for styling himself the Son of God, and appearing to claim divine honour. (John x. 33, &c.) For this they condemned him to death; (Matt. xxvi. 65, &c.; John xix. 7 ;) and yet the same Apostle spake frequently of Jesus in terms which could apply to GoD alone. In his Epistle to the Hebrews, the great doctrine of CHRIST'S Divinity forms the very frontispiece of the work, in order to render it the more conspicuous, and to fix the attention of his readers. Instead of declaring himself " PAUL, an Apostle of JESUS CHRIST," according to his general mode of addressing other churches, he begins with these sublime and striking expressions: "GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds," &c.-From what is here advanced, the following argument will arise: He by whom the worlds were made, must be the eternal God: but the worlds were made by the SON; therefore the Sox must be the eternal God.
The writer of this epistle was fully aware, that this doctrine would be highly offensive to the unbelieving Jews; and therefore he would never have advanced it but from a full conviction, that it was his duty so to do. He was willing to sacrifice every thing but truth, in order to avoid the giving of offence; but truth he would not sacrifice ; neither would he shun to declare the whole counsel of GOD.
Hence we may reasonably draw the following inferences: No man of real honesty would aflirm, that he earnestly desired and prayed for the conversion of the Jews, and call GOD to witness the truth of it, if he did not earnestly desire and pray for it. No man of good sense, who earnestly desired and prayed for the conversion of the Jews, would use a language which he knew would offend them, unless there was a necessity for using it. No man of good sense could be under a necessity of representing CHRIST as the Creator of the world, unless he cordially believed the truth of that doctrine, and considered it his duty to make it known. As surely then as the Apostle was a man of real honesty and good sense, so surely he cordially believed the Divinity of CHRIST, and considered it his duty to make it known.
7. There are some authors who object to this doctrine upon philosophical principles, and say that, in the nature of things, it cannot possibly be true, because it involves a manifest contradiction. Of this number is DR. PRIESTLEY, who, in order to manage his opposition the more effectually, goes so far as to reject, as spurious or erroneous, those parts of Scripture which are unfavourable to his system. In
Now I ask, Are not the seeming contradictions in the Doctor's belief of Eternity, as great and as many as those in our belief of a Trinity? We believe, the FATHER eternal, the Son eternal, and the HOLY GHOST eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. Our opponents ask, How can one person in the triad be the FATHER without being older than the Son and SPIRIT? We reply, Let those who put the question, explain to us the precise nature of Eternity, before they require us to explain the mystery of the Trinity. According to DR. P., there is an eternity past, which is always increasing, and an eternity to come, which is always diminishing; and yet, let the augmentation of the one, and the diminution of the other, continue ever so long, he is forced to acknowledge, that they both ever have been, and always must be, exactly equal. Let, therefore, any of his followers explain these things by a suitable comparison let them produce two positive quantities, which always have been, and ever must continue, perfectly equal, although the one is constantly augmenting, and the other continually diminishing: let them find two equal quantities, which being added together, the sum shall not be greater than either of them separately taken: in a word, let them show us a whole made up of two equal parts, and yet not greater than one of those parts. All this must be done in order to explain what DR. P. has advanced concerning Eternity; and until this be done, let them cease calling upon us to explain the doctrine of the adorable Trinity.
It is objected, that what we believe concerning the Trinity, would be a manifest contradiction, if affirmed of any thing in all created nature. We reply, What DR. P. believes concerning Eternity, would be a manifest contradiction, if affirmed of any thing in all created nature. Therefore, if he is justifiable in believing concerning Eternity, what is altogether incomprehensible by reason, we are justifiable in believing concerning the Trinity, what is altogether incomprehensible by reason. Should we, therefore, be asked, how the SON OF GOD can be coeval with the FATHER, we would ask, how Creation can be coeval with its Maker. Here we meet our antagonists upon their own ground, and argue from their own declaration; in order to show the unreasonableness of their demands in requiring us to explain that, which, according to their own principles, is inexplicable.
That the limited powers of the human soul are insufficient to search out the perfections of God, is owned by DR. P. in the following candid declarations. "The mind of man will never be able to contemplate the Being, Perfections, and Providence of GoD, without meeting with inexplicable difficulties. We may find sufficient reason for acquiescing in the darkness which involves these great subjects, but we must never expect to see them set in a perfectly clear light. But notwithstanding this, we may know enough of the Divine Being, and
of his moral government, to make us much better and happier beings than we could be without such knowledge; and even the consideration of the insuperable difficulties, referred to above, is not without its use, as it tends to impress the mind with sentiments of reverence, humility, and submission." (Preface to the Institutes of Natural
Religion, pp. 8, 9.)
If, then, the mind of man will never be able to contemplate the Being, Perfections, and Providence of GoD without meeting with inexplicable difficulties, it must be because apparent or seeming contradictions will always be found in this abstruse contemplation; for, if there were no seeming contradictions there could be no inexplicable difficulties. And, certainly, the inexplicable difficulties, or apparent contradictions, in DR. PRIESTLEY'S system, are equal in number and magnitude to those which are discovered in the doctrine of the Trinity. Is there not an apparent contradiction in the notion that creation is eternal and coeval with its Maker? Does there not appear a manifest contradiction in the idea that one eternity is always increasing, and yet for ever equal to another eternity which is always decreasing? Does it not seem a contradiction in terms, to assert that two eternities added together, will not amount to more than one of them separately taken? Would any reasonable man publish such sentiments as these, and yet object to the Divinity of CHRIST because it seemed to imply a contradiction? Would any man, who was consistent with himself, openly declare that in contemplating the Being of GOD, we shall always meet with inexplicable difficulties, and yet reject the doctrine of the Trinity because he meets with inexplicable difficulties in the contemplation of it?
But however inconsistent and unreasonable our opponents may be, let us render to GoD a reasonable service. Let us patiently proceed in the path of duty, manifesting our reverence, humility, and submission, by honouring the SoN even as we honour the FATHER; for "blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." (Ps. ii. 12.) And now may grace, mercy, and peace, be unto all that in every place call upon the name of JESUS CHRIST our LORD, both theirs and ours. Mylor, near Falmouth. WILLIAM JENKIN.
[There are but few readers, to whom it can be necessary to state, that the Author of the preceding Paper by no means intended to commit himself, as to the truth of all the sentiments avowed by DR. PRIESTLEY, in the passages quoted from the "Institutes." The whole is argumentum ad hominem; and designed to show, that DR. P.'s opposition to some vital doctrines of the Gospel, on account of “inexplicable difficulties," and "apparent contradictions" to our reason, was, even on his own principles and admissions, a most unreasonable opposition; and that similar difficulties and apparent contradictions were allowed by himself to attach to parts of his own system of theology. Thus, "out of his own mouth" his objections to orthodox Christianity are refuted and "condemned." EDITOR.]