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ers of the gospel. But is not this a groundless and hurtful opinion ? If Christians may have a true knowledge of what God has revealed in his word ; then it seems, that Christian ministers may have a true knowledge of whatever doctrine God has revealed in the gospel; and consequently that they may and ought to explain, prove and defend whatever doctrine they find God has actually revealed.
That is to say, they ought to explain, prove and defend so much concerning any doctrine, as God has revealed and no more. If he has revealed something concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, they ought to explain, prove, and defend that something. If he has revealed something concerning the doctrine of decrees, election and reprobation, they ought to explain, prove and defend that something. If he has revealed something concerning the doctrine of the divine and human nature of Christ, they ought to explain, prove and defend that something. If he has revealed something concerning divine agency, future punishment, or any other doctrine of the gospel, they ought to explain, prove and defend that something. But though ministers ought to explain, prove and defend what God has revealed in his word, yet they ought never to attempt to explain, or prove, or defend what he has not revealed in his word and what, for that reason, is really mysterious. There is, however, a wide difference between what is merely difficult and what is really mysterious, respecting the revealed doctrines of the gospel. And it is the proper duty and business of ministers to point out this difference, by explaining what is difficult, and distinguishing a difficulty from a mystery. And it is in all cases easy and practicable to discover and point out and remove a difficulty and make it appear to be no mystery. And when they have done this, in respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, or the doctrine of decrees, or any other doctrine, concerning which God has not revealed so much as he might have revealed, they have done what they ought to do. Ministers may go
just as far as revelation goes and not a step further, in explaining, proving and defending any doctrine of the gospel.
3. If Christians may have a true knowledge of whatever God has revealed concerning any doctrine of the Bible ; then they have no right to disbelieve and reject any doctrine of the Bible, merely because there is something really mysterious in it. If we may disbelieve whatever has something mysterious in it, we may disbelieve every thing that exists. On this principle, we may disbelieve our own existence ; for there is something in our own existence, which is mysterious and which we cannot comprehend. We may disbelieve the existence of all our fellow creatures ; for there is something mysterious in their existence, which we cannot comprehend. We may disbelieve the existence of the world in which we live ; for there is something mysterious in its existence, which we cannot comprehend. We may disbelieve the existence of the Deity ; for there is something mysterious in his existence, which we cannot comprehend. But though there is something mysterious in all these and in all other beings, creatures and objects, that exist, which we cannot comprehend ; yet there is something, that is not mysterious, but plain and intelligible in them all. And it would be absurd to disbelieve what is plain and intelligible, on account of what is mysterious. And it is equally absurd for Christians to disbelieve or all the doctrines of the gospel, because there is really something mysterious in them; when, at the same time, there is something plain and intelligible in theni. For they may come to the true knowledge of what is plain and intelligible in them, either by the light of nature, or by the light of divine revelation, or by the light of both. How many are there at this day, who professedly disbelieve and rejecu the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of election and many other essential doctrines of the gospel, because they discover something mysterious in them? Mystery is the great stumbling-block, which heretics, deists and sceptics are throwing in the way of Christians, for the purpose of involving them in doubts and darkness respecting all the doctrines of the gospel. Common Christians ought to stand upon their guard, and steadfastly turn a deaf ear to such deceivers and seducers. Their sophistry is both absurd and criminal, though they may have deceived themselves by it.
4. If Christians can come to the certain knowledge of what God has revealed concerning the doctrines of the gospel ; then those, who have gained this certain knowledge, ought to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Those, who are superficial and lax in their religious sentiments, are loudly exclaiming against religious disputes. They say, that neither side in a dispute know, that they are right. They can only approximate towards the truth ; no body certainly knows it, respecting any doctrine of the gospel. If this were true, it would be vain and absurd to dispute upon religious subjects. But it bas been, perhaps, sufficiently shown, that Christians may come to the real, certain knowledge of what God has revealed concerning the doctrines of the gospel.--And those, who have this knowledge of what God has revealed, may know that they have it ; and when they know the truth and know that they know it, it is their duty to contend earnestly for it. Unitarians are crying peace, peace, when there is no peace ; and moderate men, on all sides, are crying peace, peace, when there is no peace. ) It is while men sleep, that the enemy sows tares. Corrupters always wish to throw Christians off their guard. There were never, perhaps more corrupters of the gospel, than at the present day. Now is the proper time to put on the Christian armour and fight the good fight of faith ; which has always been defended and promoted by religious disputes.
5. If Christians may come to the knowledge of God and divine truth ; then they will have no excuse for their religious errors. Many believe and maintain,
that religious errors are very innocent and harmless.--They suppose men may be saved, notwithstanding any religious errors they imbibe, if they are only sincere in the belief of their errors, that is, if they really believe them to be the truth. But the Bible represents gross error as not only dangerous, but absolutely destructive. We read of those, who were under delusion to believe a lie, that they might be damned. read, that error doth eat as a canker. Error is like poison; to imbibe the smallest potion of it will be injurious; and a large potion will be eventually and eternally destructive. The most gross religious errors were never more zealously and artfully propagated, than at the present day, by which the souls of thousands and millions are exposed to endless destruction. The propagators of errors first endeavor to make men believe, that no errors are dangerous and especially those, they wish to propagate. And this opinion, that it is no matter what religious sentiments men believe and embrace, is the most dangerous of all errors ; because it opens the door to all other errors, imperceptibly. Men do not at once see the width of this door and the consequences of entering into it. But those, who trust in the innocency of error, will be sooner, or later awfully disappointed. Paul once trusted in his sincere errors, until he was well nigh destroyed. The scribes and pharisees persisted in their belief of fatal errors, which shut them out of the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly Christ told his followers, “ Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
6. This subject calls upon all to inquire, whether their love to God is founded in knowledge and in all judgment. All men, without scarcely an exception, think and say that they love God. Deists do, Unitarians do, Arminians do, Antinomians do, Universalists do, and all professors of religion do. But the great question is, whether their love to God is founded in the true knowledge of him. Do they love God for what he has revealed of himself in his word? Do they love him for being what he is ? for existing in the manner he does ? for the designs he has formed and is executing and for his ultimate end in creation, which is his own glory in the highest holiness and happiness of the intelligent system? They, who truly love God, love him for his own infinite greatness and goodness. And they rejoice, he “ has made all things for himself ; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil ;” and that he has, for his own glory, foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. Let every person, then, carefully and candidly inquire and know, whether he truly loves the only living and true God, who says, “I am the Lord and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness ; I make peace and create evil : I, the Lord, do all these things.” And may the love of real Christians, who truly know and love God, “abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment." AMBN.