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For the Christian Observer. exist, from Himwhose right to comSUFERIORITY
mand is indisputable, and extends ON THE
OF THE SCRIPTURES, AS PRESENTING A equally to all created beings, and
who regards all mankind with an RULE OF ACTION, THE BEST FOR THE INTEREST AND HAPPINESS
eye of perfect impartiality, having OF SOCIETY.
no respect of persons. The Scrip
tures assign this pre-eminence to M ANY of the ancients, renowned the Almighty: they consider this
for their moral regulations, authority as vested exclusively in his were pagan philosophers; and many hands, and announce all their comwise and useful precepts are to be mands as having emanàted from this found in the stores of their learning. Omnipotent Being. They state also But, however excellent these may the grounds of this authority. It have been in other respects, they is founded on certain acts of the were in one most important particu- Almighty, without which there could lar altogether defective: they pro- have been no other being but him. ceeded from no just or acknowledged self. The great works of creation and authority. Independently of their of preservation belong exclusively intrinsic worth, they had nothing to to him, and, above all, the wonderrecommend them to the public at- ful work of redemption. Being the tention, except it were the little origin and source of our existence, fame or reputation of their re- having “ made us, and not we ourspective authors. Being merely the selves," he has a right to issue laws suggestions of human minds, they for our conduct, and to demand our derived no right to command from obedience to them. But this right the source in which they originated; is further established by the conman having no farther power over tinua! exertion of his power and man, than what results from natu- goodness in our preservation, in the ral and social connexions, or from maintenance and exercise of our fathe established laws of society. culties, and in our enjoyment of the They could indeed have been re- comforts of life. The hand that commended, but not rightly or law- made us is necessary for our confully enforced. Their authors had' tinual support. And as our conti-, no ground upon which to found their nuance in existence depends as claim to the obedience of their fel- much upon God, as our first introlow-creatures, nor the ability to re- duction into being, he has the same ward the meritorious or to punish claim to our service upon the score the undeserving.
of what he does for us'every moIn this respect no small superio- ment of our life, as upon that of rity belongs to the precepts of Re, our creation. But this right revelation : since these are not only ceives still an additional strength in themselves perfect and complete, a' strength which no system in as shall be presently shown, but the world but that of the Gospel also proceed from authority, and can supply, and to which the most from the highest that can possibly obdurate hearts have been known CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 277.
to yield, when they had long stood sacrificed their
and out against the force of every other derstanding to the sophistry of a motive-from the astonishing plan, wicked heart. Every thing in and contrived by Unsearchable Wisdom, without us, the voice of nature and for the recovery of fallen man; from of conscience, the dictates of justhat wonderful manifestation of love tice, of gratitude, and of love, all and mercy displayed in the redemp- concur to proclaim the right of tion of the world through the me- the Almighty to the unreserved obediation and atonement of the Son dience of all his creatures. He who of God. The intention of this denies him this obedience acts ascheme is to bring the sinner to the gainst the natural order of things, acknowledgment of his obligations reverses the law of his being, and as a creature, made and supported strives for his own ruin. He lives by the Omnipotent, as well as to in God, and yet disobeys him. He compel, to win, and to constrain moves in him, and yet walks in a him by its own powerful claims ; to direction diametrically contrary to restore man to his allegiance to God, bis will. He has his being in God, and to establish him for ever under yet provokes him daily, and assumes the benign influence of the govern- a proud independence of action, as ment of Him who alone can bestow if he were his own creator. The permanent happiness on his subjects. sinfulness of disobedience is scarcely
Upon these grounds it is that ever considered in its full extent. God enforces his commands. In Were we to see it in all its enormity, the first place, he asserts his right as we could not fail to be struck with an Almighty Sovereign, who has ex- astonishment at the wonderful paercised his power in bringing us into tience of the Almighty. existence ; 'in the second, as still According to the Gospe! reprealmighty, but at the same time full sentations, the Divine Being may of goodness, and as carrying on the be considered in effect to address never-ceasing work of our preserva. every individual somewhat in this tion; and in the third, as a God of manner :-“ It was my hand that love, who has provided the most formed thee; thou art mine, obey extraordinary means of restoration my commands. It is my hand that for a self-ruined world. Thus, his supports thee every moment of thy right is founded on a free exercise life ; thou art mine, let thy life be of power, on a continual exertion spent in my, service. It was my Son of goodness, and on a wonderful who came to redeem thee from the display of love. Without the first, ruin which thou hadst brought on we should not have had existence; thyself; accept him as thy Saviour, without the second, we should not take his yoke upon thee, for it is have been continued in existence; easy; love me, because I have first without the third, we should have had loved thee; keep my commandpo happiness in it. These are the ments, and thou shalt for ever enjoy views which the Scriptures give of my favour and participate in my our connexions with the Most High; happiness.” Who but the Most these are the considerations which High can use such language as this ? they contain respecting our obliga. And where can we find his will thus tions to yield him universal obe revealed but in the sacred Scripdience; and if these be not suffi- tures ? Where else does he condecient to establish a right to our obe- scend to speak to man? dience, the most fertile imagination But this particular excellency of may labour for ever in vain to dis. the Gospel is one only of the many cover any circumstances that can excellencies which belong to it. Its possibly establish such a right. But precepts are the best for promoting, these are sufficient; and they ap- and exclusively those which can pear fully so to all who have not effectually promote, the individual
and universal happiness of mankind. ing to one point, no gravitation to They extend to all ranks; they the same centre, no fellow-feeling, comprehend within their scope the but the very reverse; a cross marchhighest as well as the lowest, the ing, an advancing towards opposite wisest as well as the most simple; directions, a motion to as many and they shew partiality to none. points as there are individuals, and The first and the chief principle often a reciprocal alienation of heart. which they inculcate equally on all To avoid these evils is impossible, is cordial love and obedience to unless there be established a moral God; which, in its extent, is another system; and unless that system, like peculiarity not to be found in the the natural one, have a grand point codes of pagan philosophers. God of attraction, around which all its being the highest, the first and the subjects, in their different spheres, last, the beginning and the end, the may move with order and regularity. centre of power, of wisdom, of Some great object must be found out, goodness, of love, and of every on which the attention of all may
be thing great and excellent, it is but fixed; an object sufficiently magnifiright that he should have the prio- cent and interesting fully to employ rity, that his will and glory should the mind and engage the heart, the be the first object of consideration pursuit of which should convey prein all the actions of his creatures. sent, increasing, and everlasting hapNor let it be impiously thought, that piness and enjoyment. But what is this there is any thing sordid or selfish object? Where is it to be found ? in this requirement. The very nature Is it that which the mere political of things cannot allow it to be other- patriot pursues, who devotes his all wise; and it is nothing more than to the temporal good of his country? what justice demands. If God be His, no doubt, is a noble object ; the author of our being, and of every yet it cannot be deemed worthy of blessing we enjoy, it is but justice this supreme distinction. Though that he should be recognized as it be great, yet it is not sufficiently such; and if all that we have is his, so: it proposes the benefit of but entirely his, it is but right that we one small portion of our race; and should devote our all to his service. this is often attained with loss and Those who would wish the Almighty injury to others; and even were the to require less than he does, would whole world included within its combave him in fact reverse the order of pass, it would yet be inadequate to his creation, violate the laws of eter- the purpose under consideration. It nal justice, and relinquish the peculiar could not even then secure happiproperties of his own existence. ness to its advocates. That measure
But besides the inherent propriety of satisfaction which is to be derived and justice of this demand on the part from good intentions would no doubt of God, it tends most essentially to pro- accompany it; but the pleasure duce unanimity and concord among which results from success might mankind. The great source of dis- often be denied; a thousand mortisensions is the pursuit of different orfications might be incurred, and the contrary interests. All the plans best patriot, even the patriot or the and proceedings of those who know philanthropist of the universe, may not God, invariably in some way or die under the regrets and remorses other centre in themselves. Honour- of innumerable disappointments. ing, enriching, or sensually gratify- We must then search forward as ing self, is the paramount object, our ultimate aim to some object of for the attainment of which every greater magnitude than any thing other consideration is relinquished. merely earthly, and which may be What but discord can be the con- pursued with more certainty of sucsequence of such a state of things ? cess. Let us ascend higher than There is no co-operation, no tend- things seen ; let us rise above mere
nature, and proceed in those steps appointments. And when it hapwhich will lead us to its Divine Au- pens that the humble Christian is thor; to that Being, whose we are, persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned, and for whom we were made; whose degraded, or even put to death in will brought us into existence, and the service of his Master, the glory whose will could reduce us again to of God is still promoted : when he nothing. His glory is the only ob- falls, he falls only to advance the ject that can fully answer our ex- great object of his desire ; and as to pectations. The magnitude of this himself, to rise to a more exalted object is sufficient to engage the eminence, and to a larger participaattention of the whole world, or of tion of heavenly enjoyments. And ten thousand worlds : its attraction is not this a truly glorious object; and magnificence may well engross an object so elevated as to be above the love and admiration of all in- all the pursuits of time; so compretelligent beings; its influence is so hensive as to include every other benign and powerful as to be capa- that is good; so peculiarly excellent ble of conveying pleasure and feli- that it may be prosecuted and atcity, unceasing and infinite, to the tained under all possible circumutmost extent of rational existence; stances; so beneficial as to convey and the interest which it excites is happiness to all who aim at its proso varied and extensive as to afford motion; and so permanent as to be şufficient scope for the exertions of pursued through eternity by men all created minds without collision and angels with unceasing pleasure, or interference ; for in pursuing it, admiration, and delight? Oh! that far from impeding, they mutually the world could be persuaded to repromote the welfare and happiness linquish their own mean, selfish, and of each other. It is an object which sinful aims, and to choose this great comprehends in it every other that object, and pursue it with the same is good and lawful. Its promotion ardour and diligence with which consists in doing the Divine will; they now pursue the trifles of the and as this refers to our entire con- present life! What union, what duct, to our duty to all with whom peace, what happiness, would be we are connected, and even to the then enjoyed even here; and how whole world, we are promoting it abundant would these be, were all while engaged in the performance moving, as it were, around the same of every branch of that duty. The centre, enlightened and influenced glory of the Most High is advanced by the great Luminary of the moral by every act of obedience: even system, and aiming at the promotion a cup of cold water, given from a of the same interest, the furtherance principle of duty and love to God, of the same great cause ! shall not lose its reward. There are The necessity of this first and no circumstances under which this grand principle of moral duty for object may not be pursued and at the promotion of universal peace tained; no changes nor chances, and happiness, is incontrovertible : no events however untoward and
who allows what every distressing, no accidents however rational being must allow, the exunexpected and alarming, can pos- istence of a Supreme Being, can on şibly hinder its furtherance. If our any fair ground dispute it. If we plans and endeavours to benefit our take away
this first and great com. fellow-creatures be unsuccessful, if mandment, we leave no centre of the evil machinations of Satan or union; we remove the main spring the world frustrate our expectations, of the moral machine, which cannot yet we shall still succeed in the be supplied by any human invenmain object, in glorifying God by tion; we rob the system of that doing his will; and we shall attain which sets it in motion, which inthis, notwithstanding all possible dis- fluences all its parts, which pre
serves it in order, which produces tection is his entire confidence, in regularity and consistence in all its whose services is his delight, and movements. We may as well ex- at the attainment of whose like, pect the luminous and stupendous noss he aims as the highest excel bodies in the planetary system to lence, as perfection itself. The madisplay their wonted splendour, and jesty of God will inspire him with to carry on their unvaried motions reverence, his justice with an ahwithout the glorious luminary of na- horrence of what is wrong, his ture, as that human or rational be, holiness with a detestation of sin, ings should act and move with con, his goodness with a desire to prosistency and order in their different mote the comforts of others, his spheres of life, without living under mercy with compassion on objects the government, without feeling the of pity, his long-suffering with influence, of their Creator. All the a patient endurance of evils, and confusions and disorders, the con- his sovereignty with contentment in flicts and devastations, the blood- that station of life in which he may shed and massacres, ever witnessed be placed. These are the natural in the world, are to be mainly productions of the first principle of attributed to the exclusion of this the Divine law when “put into the first principle of duty either from mind, and written in the heart;" and the creed or from the hearts of they are visible in a greater or less mankind; and the very intention of degree in all those in whom this printhe Gospel is to restore it, to plant, ciple exists, though they are often to engraft it in the inward parts, and checked and blasted bythecorruption to make it grow for the fructifica- and infirmities of even the best of men tion of the earth. Its primary ob- in this imperfect and probationary ject is to lead the creature back to state. In these impressions or comGod in Christ, that he may obtain his municated virtues is to be found favour, and live under his influence every thing necessary for qualifying and to his glory; and its secondary us to be useful members of society. object, to capacitate him to desire We find in them the spirit of reand to promote the good of others, gard and submission towards those to love his neighbour as himself. in authority; a sense of justice, to The means devised and prescribed prevent oppression and wrong; a for these purposes are of a very ex- holy disposition to abstain from and traordinary kind, and are wonder- abhor sin ; a philanthrophic mind, fully efficacious for the accomplish- to advance the happiness of others; ment of their object, as numerous a feeling heart, to commiserate the instances in every age of the world distressed ; a patient temper, to bear have proved.
with indignities; and a contented Respecting the operations of this spirit, the great promoter of internal main principle, but few words are peace and comfort. What more can necessary, the subject being very be required for the purpose of introobvious. When man is brought un- ducing an age of universal happiness ? der the controul of Him who made This knowledge of the Lord filling him, the whole character of the the earth” would be the only, and. Divine Being exerts an influence an amply sufficient, means for the atover his mind, and fixes its own tainment of that exalted end. holy and glorious impression upon Descending from this first eleall his feelings and actions As a ment in the precepts of revealed submissive and devoted subject, he truth, we shall now notice some of will regard the Almighty as his their other properties, and point out rightful and exalted Sovereign, as in what manner they bear on the one in whose favour is his greatest welfare and peace of society. happiness, in whose power and pro- Respecting the regulation of our