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was the declaration concerning this highly favoured people ; from which, and various other passages in holy writ, we may safely conclude, that man's destruction is of himself; agreeably to another declaration of the Almighty by one of his prophets :“O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”+ “ The grace of God which bringeth salvation, and hath appeared unto all men,” affordeth this help. It is saving grace; and it is universal grace. It is a gift consistent with every attribute of the Deity; and with the declarations concerning Him, recorded in the Scriptures of Truth.
That the Almighty may see meet, in his unsearchable wisdom, to confer a greater degree of this grace on some than on others; and that He may peculiarly call some to particular services in his church, or in the world, are no doubt consistent with the Divine attributes : but with respect to the future happiness of mankind, there is abundant reason to believe, that all receive a sufficient decree of grace to procure it; and if this grace is not equally distributed to all, yet, surely, we may conclude that, at last, the judgment will be according to this most excellent rule :“ Where much is given, much will
+ Hosea xiii. 9.
be required;"|| and, consequently, that where little is given but little will be required.
In addition to what has been already said, it may be proper to observe, that, in considering this subject, we should always distinguish between those passages in the Scriptures, which simply declare the power of the Almighty, and those which set forth the manner in which He exercises that power. Thus the apostle has said, and no doubt said truly: “ He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy: and whom He will He hardeneth.”* But then are we not also told that “the Lord is good to all; and bis tender mercies are over all bis works ;”+ and bas not the very same apostle, after recommending that “ prayers and intercessions should be made for all men,”1 expressly declared, that “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth?''Ş Correspondent with this is the language of the apostle Peter : “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long suffering to us-ward ; not wil
|| Luke xii. 41. * Rom. ix, 18. + Psalm cxlv. 9. I 1 Tim. ii, 1.
$ 1 Tim. ii, 3, 4,
ling that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."*
It should also be considered that hardness of heart is the punishment, and not the original cause, of sin; nor does the hardness spoken of by the apostle in the Epistle to the Romans, necessarily imply perpetual hardness; for of the Jews, whom he represents in a state of hardness, he says : “ If they abide not still in unbelief, they shall be graffed in again.”+
If God did judicially harden or suffer to be hardened, those who had been long wilfully disobedient to his laws, He might, with great propriety, “show his wrath, and make his power known, in the vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction”i by their own accumulated transgressions. Thus were Pharaoh and the Jews monuments of the justice of an offended God, and warnings to succeeding generations, not to despise those long-suffering mercies, with which He waits the return of those who sin against Him.
Seeing then that the designs of our great and gracious Creator are so replete with "good-will - to men;" that, as far as is consistent with the
* 2 Peter iii. 9.
+ Rom. xi. 23.
Rom. ix. 22.
free agency with which He has seen meet to · endow us, He is ever willing our happiness, and furnishing us with the means of procuring it; “Let us draw nigh with a true heart, in full assurance of faith ;" * and, trusting in that merciful redemption, by which we have, on repentance, the forgiveness of sins, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”+ Thus will that sanctification of heart, and holiness of life, be experienced, without which, we are told, “no man shall see the Lord;”# and thus all will redound to the glory of God, who has 6 shown the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus.”
Heb. xii. 14.
* Heb. X, 22.
+ Heb. iv. 16. § Ephes, ii. 7.
Worship an act of the soul towards God.--Meetings for worship may be held in silence. — Public worship an indispensable duty
--reasonable and beneficial.-Silent worship adapted to all states.--Its advantages.--Scripture arguments for it.-- Prayer a necessary duty.--The qualifications of Ministers. ---Human learning not essential to the Ministry, -No individual has a right exclusively to assume the exercise of it.- On Women's preaching.--On preaching for hire.-- Tithes.
HAVING, in the preceding chapters, treated on those subjects in which we nearly agree with the generality of Christian professors, I come now to consider those points, in which we materially differ from them. Two of these, being nearly connected, are included in one chapter, though it will also be necessary to consider them separately. These are, Divine Worship and Gospel Ministry.
With respect to the first, we consider that worship is an act of the soul towards God; that He is a Spirit; that the soul of man is spiritual;