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causes that may dissolve it; and the heinous crime of unfaithful→ ness in it; besides, a plain example of an actual and solemn excommunication for irregularity in contracting it; all show the concern, which the church of Christ has in this matter. This the judicatories thereof ought to feel, and to exercise an authority corresponding thereto, and which they may and ought to do, without any interference with the rights of the civil magistrate, or taking him for their rule in such cases.
If the foregoing observations may be considered, as it is thought they are, of weight, in support of the binding obligation of the law Lev. xviii. and of the unlawfulness of the connexion mentioned; it may be sufficient, merely to mention, that even if it was a doubtful case, yet as that law has been so long and so generally considered in this light, by the christian church, and consequently has begotten a general abhorrence of such connexions in the minds of christian professors, so that they give great offence; it ought to be avoided by all on this ground agreeably to the advice of St. Paul, Rom. xiv. 1 Cor. viii. and x. chapters.
CHRISTIAN CONFIDENCE, OR TRUST IN GOD.
To say that, in respect to this or the other interest or event, we trust in God, in his providence or grace, has become a very common, even a hackneyed phrase; a phrase, almost as often repeated by the unprincipled and thoughtless, as by those whose minds and hearts have been better informed. Happy it would be, if, on every occasion, it were used in a sense more congruous with piety and truth, and accompanied with a corresponding sentiment of the heart. But, how often is it uttered as an expletive merely? or as meaning no more than a blind and wanton expectation, that the course of things will be so ordered and adjusted, as shall accord with our favourite schemes and wishes? The phrase, thus only intended, merits no other consideration, than as a trifling modish reference to the powers of the Almighty; or as a thoughtless and presumptuous hope, that his provident wisdom and goodness, in the given case, will be exerted in our favour.
Such trust or confidence in God, if so we may call it, is always, and at the best, but weak, undetermined, unsteady, and unfounded, as it is presumptuous. It is not accompanied with any proper sense of piety in the heart. It is not productive of any characteristical expressions of goodness in the life. In the Holy
Scriptures, wherever it is mentioned, or referred to, in its proper import, and by whatever terms it is there denoted, it always intends a well-founded, stable, determinate, unfluctuating, and decisively efficacious principle of religion, or spring of moral and spiritual action. To such kind they refer, when they direct us to be "steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; knowing," or in the confidential persuasion, "that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord." But it is to the contrary; to that which is false they refer, when they speak of the double-minded man, who is unstable in all his ways."
It is not my design, Mr. Editor, to enter on a discussion at large of the grounds and reasons, of the nature and several properties of this christian principle. I mean to consider it chiefly in reference, or in opposition to the false appearance or affectation of it, above suggested.
In this principle, where it is genuine, there is always a certain requisite correspondence with the declared will of God. It is his gracious and express will, that we "put our trust in him;" our entire trust in him; our entire trust in him alone; and that forever; that is, at all times, in every circumstance, under every apprehension or prospect, and in every event. Now, if we affect a compliance with this will of our heavenly Sovereign, and our compliance, such as it is, be temporary only, or partial, or wavering, or in any respect, as to its determination or force, discordant with the will, we do not in truth and fact trust in God; nor, of course, will our confidence be at all effectual to the purposes by that will graciously intended. He who really trusts in God, does so trust in him, as in the instance, to do the will of God. And it is he only who thus does his will, that " abideth forever," as it is expressed, or, that "shall not be confounded;" that is, shall not fail in that, in reference to which he puts his trust in him.
There is also a certain requisite correspondence with the attributes of his nature. His wisdom, his power, his omnipresence and omniscience, his veracity, his justice, his faithfulness, his various goodness and grace, do not only fully justify, but, from their nature demand, an entire, firm, constant, and absolutely unreserved, as well as most cheerful, and affectionate reliance upon him. In him, these attributes are, strictly speaking, perfections; and perfections, absolute and infinite. As such, they admit of no limitation on our part, or compromise in our confidence. And on the ground of our Saviour's meritorious and ef
fective mediation, our confidence in them may warrantably reach, and in apt consistency ought to reach to the utmost extent of our natural powers: I mean, as to all those concerns, in which it is our interest, and in which we are allowed and commanded, to confide in him. In the present state, indeed, of various impotence and defect, it never can amount to the utmost boundary of the powers, which originally appertained to the human constitution. Nevertheless, we know that it can, and that it ought so far to reach, as to become a proper, characteristic, stable, habitual, and efficacious sentiment of the heart, and prompter of the conduct of men. Such amount, agreeably to the christian system, appears to be requisite to the genuine constitution, the intended operation, and the acceptableness of it. If it fall short of that amount whatever energies it may affect, or appearances it may assume, it is not of the nature, nor has it the powers, of that which is essentially suitable to those attributes, of that which they encourage, or which they indispensably claim. It implies a criminal infidelity in respect to the perfection of the divine attributes and character. It denotes at least an implicit conception, that the Deity is not to be depended upon.
There likewise must needs be a certain correspondence with the promises of the word of God. If God, infinitely holy, just, and true, and faithful, and powerful, has promised, his word of promise will as surely be verified, as that any effect in the order of nature will result from its proper and appointed cause: I should have said, that it will be much more surely verified; particularly in reference to the material system of things, in which the Deity has at times seen meet to deviate from his general order. But here, as no argument of doubt, so no degree of irresolution and instability, in our confidence is admissible. And how much less can it be justified, when we take into view the wonderful provision aforementioned, which it has pleased God, in his sovereign wisdom, condescension, and mercy to make, for the removal of every cause of hesitation, arising from the consciousness of our numerous violations of his holy law? In virtue of this efficacious provision, the promises of the word are all, as it is expressed, "Yea and amen, to the glory of God the Father." Now, what confidence, short of that I have de. scribed, can be supposed to be answerable to promises of God so founded and ratified? He in short who belives not in his word and promise so validated and ascertained; who does not rest his entire interest and hope upon them, is guilty of such treatment of his Maker and Redeemer, as is proper only to the most unVOL. II. Z z
worthy and contemptible of creatures; he is guilty of "making God a liar."
It is confidence in God, so corresponding, and so confirmed, by the meritorious intervention and work of the Saviour; it is, I say, such confidence only, that meets the true sense and spirit of the gospel, and that is attached to true christian piety and goodness. Without such confidence we can neither be determined on a life of real religion, nor, when it has commenced, can we with any uniformity and steadiness, persevere in it. If chosen and engaged in at all, it must be chosen and engaged in decidedly; and that, in preference to, and to the exclusion of all other opposing interests and aids which may offer. As religion and the interests connected with it, are in their nature the highest and most interesting, so they are to be embraced as the highest and most commanding objects of attention and desire; exclusive of whatever may present itself, either as a rival, or as a partner, or even occasional substitute. If not so embraced and pursued, it cannot in truth be said to have commenced in the heart; nor can it in truth and consistency be exemplified in the life.
In the life of real piety and goodness, there are innumerous interests to be counteracted, and innumerous sacrifices to be made. To these interests we are so strongly attached; of their imaginary excellence we are so deeply enamoured; with conceptions of their importance so fully possessed; and of their sufficiency to our well-being so blindly and obstinately confident, that in order to contravene their powerful fascination, and to fix the course of our affections and practice in an opposite direction, a superior efficaciously opposing principle or force is indispensably needful. Now this principle is trust or confidence in God; and confidence, not partial, not weak, not wavering, nor occasional only, but, as I have said, entire, strong, habitual, fixed. At any rate, it must needs be such as implies a decided practical conviction of the fallacy of all that imaginary excellence, importance and sufficiency of earthly things, to which I have referred; and the like conviction, on the other hand, of the infinitely superior excellence, and of the certain advantageous issue of that aim and that course, which is opposed to their fascination. Unqualified by this conviction, the objects of carnal sense, and the interests of one kind and another, which are adverse to piety and the service of God, will ever appear to us to be the most desirable, and on the whole, most advantageous and worthy of pursuit. For, in this case, we credit not, nor can we credit, at least to any proper effect, the declarations of God to the contrary; nor can we rely
on his promises of greater good, either present or future, or of his veracity, his power and benevolence to fulfil those promises to the amount of his word, or the satisfaction of our minds. In this unhappy predicament, we have neither inclination nor encouragement to devote ourselves entirely to Him. And every tempting worldly interest and sensual gratification, in spite of the better notices, and even occasional purposes of our minds, will retain their ascendency over our hearts and practice.
The principle of genuine confidence is inseparably coupled with the spirit of sacrifice. In the very nature of it, it implies an unreserved relinquishment and renunciation of earthly in lieu of a heavenly good. It is the determined effort of the soul to risk the loss of all which the sensual worldly mind esteems most dear and valuable; and to venture itself and all its interests forever on the faithfulness, power, and grace of its divine Redeemer, and all this, for his sake; for that good, which his favour imports, and which in his word he has promised to them, who thus surrender themselves to him, and sincerely love and obey him. Now, such risk, such sacrifice, such pointed and spirited efforts cannot possibly consist with a timid, weak, wavering, or divided frame and intention of mind. It doubtless requires all that full and firm determination of the whole mind and soul of which I speak.
Suppose, for instance, that possessed in this your native land, of very estimable property and connexions, you were invited into a distant country by some personage of superior honours and possessions; and that you were promised by him, that, going over to him, and wholly resigning your connexions and interests here, he would fully and securely invest you with all that he has. Would you make the sacrifice required? Would you thus impoverish yourself, and go over to him, wholly casting yourself on his bounty and protection? Would you do this, if you did not firmly believe in his veracity? If you did not entirely confide in his good-will, and his sufficiency to answer the expectations he had effected to raise in you? You certainly would not. Neither, in the present case, can we make the sacrifices which the nature and the laws of piety and goodness enjoin, without entire, firm, and undoubting confidence in the truth, benevolence, and sufficiency of God. He has most graciously and condescendingly invited us into his heavenly kingdom; he has promised us his infallible friendship and protection; and withal, a rich, sure, and most glorious inheritance: "An inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, eternal in the heavens." But observe: on this reasonable score hath he thus promised; namely, that we choose his friend