Page images

sometimes much greater perfection than we; is a principle which I look upon as incontestible. Brutes are, if experience (which is practical demonstration) carries any authority, as sensible of pain and pleasure, as man. Rub a cat's head and she will purr; pinch her tail, and she will spit. Now I would ask, what is it that feels? The body, the flesh, the blood, the nerves? No: for a dead animal has all these, and yet feels not. It is the soul, Mr. President, that feels and perceives, through the medium of the senses: for, what are the senses; but channels of conveyance, and a sort of mediators between outward objects and the mind? In what way matter acts upon spirit, is unknown: but that it does so, every day's experience proves.

Memory likewise belongs to brutes. Memory is the power of recalling past ideas, and of recollecting past events. The person who denies that beasts remember, must either be a man of no observation, or have a very bad memory himself. Now there can be no memory without ideas: no ideas, without thinking (for, the forming, the comparison, and the combination of ideas are thought): no thinking, without some degree of reasoning: and no reasoning, without a reasonable soul. There may be thought, without memory: but memory there can be none, without thought. And the passions likewise are as strong in them, as in us.

On the whole, needless cruelty to beasts is highly criminal. Especially if we take in these two additional observations; 1. that the same Deity, who has made them what they are, might have made us what they are: i. e. he might have imprisoned our spirits in their bodies, had it been his pleasure. And though I look upon the Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration to be in itself both groundless and absurd; yet its tendency was certainly a very good one, as it necessarily induced men to be tender of the lives and happiness, the being and the well-being of



the animal creation. 2. As another very cogent motive to this benevolence of disposition and behaviour, let us never forget, that all the miseries and hardships under which the brute creation labour, together with mortality itself to which they are liable, are primarily owing to the sin of man: which reflection must influence every considerate and truly ingenious mind, to treat them with the greatest lenity upon that very account. Nor can I omit just mentioning an argument, which may be deduced from the care of providence. If God hath respect to the meanest of his creatures, and despises not the workmanship of his own hands; let us, whose supreme glory it is to resemble deity, imitate him in these amiable and graceful views. As Dr. Young truly and nobly observes, "There is not a fly, but infinite wisdom is concerned both in its structure and its destination." How dare we then be destroyers of their ease, which we ought to promote; or wantonly deprive them of that life, which we

cannot restore ?





"Whether our good works will add to our degree of future glory?"


FROM what I have the pleasure to know of the worthy gentleman, who is the father of the question, I have too great an opinion of his good sense, and of the deference he pays to divine revelation, to suppose he believes there is any sort of merit in human works. I dare say no person here need be acquainted, that to merit, properly signifies to earn; and, originally, the word was applied to soldiers, and other military persons, who, by their labours in the field, and by the various hardships they frequently underwent during the course of a campaign, as also by other services they might occasionally render to the commonwealth, were said merere stipendia, to merit, or earn their pay which they might properly be said to do, because they yielded, in real service, an equivalent to the state, for the stipend they received; which was therefore due to them in justice. Hence I apprehend, we come at the true meaning of the word merit; from this view of the point, I think it is very clear, in the very nature of things, exclusive of scripture, that there can be no such thing as merit in our best obedience. One man may merit of another; but all mankind together cannot merit from the hand of God. If we advert to revelation, nothing can be

clearer than this important truth. Salvation, in all its various branches, is expressly declared to be "not of works," and elsewhere "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us:" for which one of the reasons assigned is, "lest any man should boast:" which he would surely, and might justly do, if his works were meritorious of divine acceptance, could justify him in the sight of God, and entitle him to heaven. The law will admit of no righteousness, as a sufficient ground of justification, but such, and such a righteousness only, as in every respect whatever, and from first to last, comes up to the standard of that law which no human righteousness, since the primitive transgression of Adam, ever did come up to, or ever will. Hence it follows, that all men being sinners, and of consequence not having a perfect righteousness to bring, either the whole human race must be condemned, or those who are saved must be saved by a righteousness out of themselves, and to be had from another. Who this other is, in virtue of whose complete obedience the church of his elect are justified from all things, the scripture plainly declares, when it tells us, that "Christ is the end of the law, for righteousness, to every one that believes" that the same blessed person, "who knew no sin, was made sin," that is, a sin-bearer and a sin-offering, "for us, that we might be made · the righteousness of God in him :" and, to mention no more passages, that, "as, by the disobedience of one, many were made, or constituted sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall many be made and constituted righteous." If, then, we are justified by the alone imputation of Christ's righteousness, it more evidently follows, that good works on our part, are in no sense, meritorions of heaven: neither as causes, nor conditions; for, however plausible and innocent the word condition may sound; a condition is no more than a softer name for cause;

as being something, on account of which, something else is given or done. And that works can be neither causes, nor (which amounts to the same thing) conditions of justification, is clear; because the performance of a condition necessarily precedes the reception of a benefit suspended on that condition; whereas, good works (and works are then only evangelically good, which proceed from the united principles of faith in Christ and love to God, which faith and love are the fruits of grace previously bestowed) do not go before, but follow after justification, which is the express doctrine both of scripture, and of the church of England, in her 12th and 13th articles, and throughout the whole book of homilies. Therefore, to put good works before justification, is making the effect prior to the cause; and representing the fountain as flowing from the stream, instead of deducing the stream from the fountain. I shall only add one observation more, on the head of merit. Whoever believes the scriptures, must admit, that whatever good is either wrought in man, or done by him, is the fruit of God's effectual grace. Was it otherwise, it would follow, that God is not the source of all good: but that men may be good,. independently of the Creator; and of consequence, that there are some good and perfect gifts, which do not descend from the Father of lights. How rational this is in itself, and how honourable to the Deity, must be left to the judgment of those gentlemen, who think fit to depart from the doctrines of the Reformation, by espousing the system of Arminius. If therefore, the good we are enabled to do, is done in the strength of divine grace; it follows, not that the Deity is indebted to us, but that we are unspeakably indebted to him, for working in us both to will and to do the things that are well pleasing in his sight. "Are good works then, and moral obedience, unnecessary?" Quite the reverse. They are of indispensible necessity. They must and will be

« PreviousContinue »