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the Father stands in to us. Hence arises the obligation of duty which we are under to him. In Scripture are revealed the relations which the Son and Holy Spirit stand in to us.
Hence arise the obligations of duty which we are under to them. The truth of the case, as one may speak, in each of these three respects, being admitted, that God is the Governor of the world, upon the evidence of reason ; that Christ is the Mediator be. tween God and man; and the Holy Ghost our Guide and Sanctifier, upon the evidence of revelation : the truth of the case, I say, in each of these respects, being admitted, it is no more a question, why it should be commanded that we be baptized in the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, than that we be baptized in the name of the Father. This matter seems to require to be more fully stated. *
Let it be remembered, then, that religion comes under the twofold consideration of internal and external; for the latter is as real a part of religion, of true religion, as the former. Now, when religion is considered under the first notion, as an inward principle, to be exerted in such and such inward acts of the mind and heart, the essence of natural religion may be said to consist in religious regards to God the Father Almighty; and the essence of revealed religion, as distinguished from natural, to consist in religious regards to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. And the obligation we are under, of paying these religious regards to each of these divine persons respectively, arises from the respective relations which they each stand in to us. How these relations are made known, whether by reason or revelation, makes no alteration in the case ; because the duties arise out of the relations themselves, not out of the manner in which we are informed of them. The Son and Spirit have each his proper office
* See, The Nature, Obligation, and Efficacy, of the Christian Sacraments, &c. and Colliber of revealed Religion, as there quoted.
in that great dispensation of Providence, the redemption of the world: the one our Mediator, the other our Sanctifier. Does not, then, the duty of religious regards to both these divine persons, as immediately arise, to the view of reason, out of the very nature of these offices and relations, as the inward good-will and kind intention, wbich we owe to our fellow-creatures, arises out of the common relations between us and them? But it will be asked, “ What are the inward religious regards, appearing thus obviously due to the Son and Holy Spirit, as arising, not merely from command in Scripture, but from the very nature of the revealed relations which they stand in to us?” I answer, the religious regards of reverence, honour, love, trust, gratitude, fear, hope. In what external manner this inward worship is to be expressed, is a matter of pure revealed command ; as, perhaps, the external manner in which God the Father is to be worshipped, may be more so than we are ready to think : but the worship, the internal worship itself, to the Son and Holy Ghost, is no farther matter of pure revealed command, than as the relations they stand in to us, are matter of pure revelation ; for the relations being known, the obligations to such internal worship are obligations of reason, arising out of those relations themselves. In short, the history of the gospel as immediately shows us the reason of these obligations, as it shews us the meaning of the words, Son and Holy Ghost.
If this account of the Christian religion be just, those persons who can speak lightly of it, as of little consequence, provided natural religion be kept to, plainly. forget, that Christianity, even what is peculiarly so called, as distinguished from natural religion, has yet somewhat very important, even of a moral nature. For the office of our Lord being made known, and the relation he stands in to us, the obligation of religious regards to him is plainly moral, as much as charity to mankind is; since this obligation arises, before external command, immediately out of that his office. and relation itself. Those persons appear to forget, that revelation is to be considered as informing us of somewhat new in the state of mankind, and in the government of the world ; as acquainting us with some relations we stand in, which could not otherwise have been known. And these relations being real, (though before revelation we could be under no obligations from them, yet upon their being revealed), there is no reason to think, but that neglect of behaving suitably to them will be attended with the same kind of consequences under God's government, as neglecting to behave suitably to any other relations made known to as by reason. And ignorance, whether unavoidable or voluntary, so far as we can possibly see, will, just as much, and just as little, excuse in one case as in the other; the ignorance being supposed equally unavoidable, or equally voluntary, in both cases.
If, therefore, Christ be indeed the Mediator between God and man, i. e. if Christianity be true; if he be indeed our Lord, our Saviour, and our God, no one can say what may follow, not only the obstinate, but the careless disregard to him in those high relations. Nay, no one can say what may follow such disregard, even in the way of natural consequence For, as the natural consequences of vice in this life, are doubtless to be considered as judicial punishments inflicted by God; so likewise, for aught we know, the judicial punishments of the future life may be, in a like way, or a like sense, the natural consequence of vice ; t of men's violating or disregarding the relations which God has placed them in here, and made known to them.
Again, If mankind are corrupted and depraved in their moral character, and so are unfit for that state which Christ is gone to prepare for his disciples ; and, if the assistance of God's Spirit be necessary to renew their nature, in the degree requisite to their being qualified for that state ; all which is implied in the ex
* Pages 30, 31.
+ Chap 5
press, though figurative, declaration, Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God : * supposing this, is it possible any seri- . ous person can think it a slight matter, whether or no he makes use of the means, expressly commanded by God, for obtaining this divine assistance ? especially since the whole analogy of nature shews, that we are not to expect any benefits, without making use of the appointed means for obtaining or enjoying them. Now, reason shews us nothing of the particular immediate means of obtaining either temporal or spiritual benefits. This, therefore, we must learn, either from experience or revelation. And experience, the present case does not admit of.
The conclusion from all this evidently is, that Christianity being supposed either true or credible, it is unspeakable irreverence, and really the most presumptuous rashness, to treat it as a light matter.
It can never justly be esteemed of little consequencé, till it be positively supposed false. Nor do I know a higher and more important obligation which we are under, than that of examining most seriously into the evidence of it, supposing its credibility; and of embracing it, upon supposition of its truth.
The two following deduetions may be proper to be added, in order to illustrate the foregoing observations, and
to prevent their being mistaken.
First, Hence we may clearly see, where lies the distinction between what is positive and what is moral in religion. Moral precepts are preeepts, the reasons of which we see ; positive precepts are precepts, the reasons of which we do not see. + Moral duties arise out of the nature of the case itself, prior to external command. Positive duties do not arise out of the na
* John üi. 5.
+ This is the distinction between moral and positive precepts, considered respectively as such. But yet, since the latter have somewhat of a moral nature, we may see the reason of them corsidered in this view. Moral and positive precepts are in some
ture of the case, but from external command ; nor would they be duties at all, were it not for such command received from him, whose creatures and subjects
But the manner in which the nature of the case, or, the fact of the relation, is made known, this doth not denominate any duty, either positive or moral. That, we be baptized in the name of the Father, is as much a positive duty as tbat we be baptized in the name of the Son; because both arise equally from revealed command : though the relation which we stand in to God the Father, is made known to us by.reason; the relation we stand in to Christ, by revelation only On the other hand, the dispensation of the gospel admitted, gratitude as immediately becomes due to Christ, from his being the voluntary.minister of this dispensation, as it is due to God the Father, from bis being the fountain of all good; though the first is made known to us by revelation only, the second by reason. Hence also we may.see, and, for distinctness sake, it may be worth mentioning, that positive institutions come under a twofold consideration. They are either institutions founded on natural religion, as baptism in the name of the Father; though this has also a particular reference to the gospel dispensation, for it is in the name of God, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
; or they are external institutions founded on -revealed religion, as baptism in the name of the Son, and.of the Holy Ghost.
Secondly, From the distinction between what is mo. ral and what is positive in religion, appears the ground of that peculiar preference, which the Scripture teach, es us to be due to the former.
The reason of positive institutions in general is very obvious, though we should not see the reason why such
respects alike, in other respects different. So far as they are alike, we discern the reasons of both; so far as they are different, we discern the reasons of the former, but not of the latter. See p. 144, &c. and p.-152,