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our Lord-that the great Spirit, whose of fice it is to inscribe the law of God on the hearts of those whose sins are forgiven them, and whom he has admitted into the privileges of his new and his better covenant, has never omitted, in a single instance, to make the remembrance of the Sabbath one of the most conspicuous, and one of the most indelible articles of that inscription. And thus has it happened, that without any statutory enactment in the whole compass of the New Testament upon the subject-without any formal setting forth of Sabbath observation, or any laying down of a Sabbath ceremonial, the grave, the solemn, the regular, and with all this, the affectionate keeping of this distinguished day, has come down to us through a series of eighteen centuries, and may be recognised to this hour as the ever-present badge of every Christian individual; and as the great index and palladium of religion in every Christian land.
self over that mansion where he drew his tians-that in every age of the church the first breath, and was taught to repeat his love of the Sabbath, and an honest delight infant hymn, and lisp his infant prayer. in all its pious and profitable observances, Rest assured, that a Christian, having the have ever stood out among the visible linealove of God written in his heart, and deny-ments of the new creature in Jesus Christ ing the Sabbath a place in its affections, is an anomaly that is no where to be found. Every Sabbath image, and every Sabbath circumstance, is dear to him. He loves the quietness of that hallowed morn. He loves the church-bell sound, which summons him to the house of prayer. He loves to join the chorus of devotion, and to sit and listen to that voice of persuasion which is lifted in the hearing of an assembled multitude. He loves the retirement of this day from the din of worldly business, and the inroads of worldly men. He loves the leisure it brings along with it-and sweet to his soul is the exercise of that hallowed hour, when there is no eye to witness him but the eye of heaven-and when in solemn audience with the Father, who seeth him in secret, he can, on the wings of celestial contemplation, leave all the cares, and all the vexations, and all the secularities of an alienated world behind him. O, how is it possible, that a man can be under the dominion of a principle of piety, who does not love that day We shall just say one thing more upon which brings round to piety its most pre- this subject at present. What now becomes cious opportunities? How is it possible, of him, who, like a special pleader, with a that he can wear the character of a religious statute-book in his hand, thinks that the being, if the very day which offers him the New Testament has set him at large from freest time for the lessons and the exercises every other style of Sabbath observation, of religion, is spent in other exercises, or because he cannot find in it any laying idly suffered to roll over his head in no ex-down of Sabbath observances? He will ercise at all? How is it possible, that there not own the force of any obligation till it can exist within him any honest care of his be shown to him as one of the clauses in the eternity, if the best season for carrying on, bond. His constant appeal is to the bond. without disturbance, the preparations of He will not exceed, by a single inch, the eternity, pass away in disgust and in weari-literalities of the bond. He will square his ness? How is it possible, with all the ten- every service, and his every offering by the derness of his instinctive nature for the bond; and when he is charged with any members of his family, that there can be one of the misdemeanours of Sabbath-breakone particle of tenderness for their souls, ifing, he will tell you that it is not specified this day run on at large from all the re- in the bond. Why, my brethren, if the straints of Christian discipline, and careless bond be what he stands upon, he just parents, giving themselves up to neglect and wakens up against himself the old ministry to indolence, make no effort to reclaim the of condemnation. If it be on the just and wild ignorance of children, untaught and even footing of the bond that he chooses to untrained to that wisdom which is untò sal- have his exactly literal dealings with God, vation? The thing is not to be conceived; on this footing God will enter into judg and upon the strength of all these impossi- ment with him; and soon, and very soon, bles, do we assert, that every real Christian will he convict him of his glaring deficienhas the love of the Sabbath engraven on cies from his own favourite standard, the the tablet of the inner man-that if you had bond. Ah, my brethren, when a Christian a window to his bosom, you would there serves his reconciled Father, it is the sersee the fourth commandment filling up as vice of a liberal and spontaneous attachlarge a space of that epistle, which is writ- ment. His aim is to please him and to gloten not with ink, but with the Spirit of the rify him to the uttermost; and he is never living God, as it does on the decalogue of more delighted than when it is in his power Moses-that this is not the peculiarity of to offer the God whom he loves, some of some accidental Christians, meeting our ob- those substantial testimonies of affection servation on some random walk over the which no jealousy can extort by any of its face of Christian society-that it is the con-enactments, and the letter of no law is able stant and universal attribute of all Chris- to embody in any of its descriptions. With
such a spirit, and such a cordiality within, we cannot doubt for a moment the delight which such a man will take in the Sabbath, and how dear to his bosom will the affecting remembrance be to which it is consecrated, and how diligently he will cultivate its every hour to the purpose for which it was made-and how, knowing that the Sabbath was made for man, he will earnestly and honestly give himself to the task of realizing all its usefulness to himself and to his family. And do you think, that God will not see this? Do you think, that he will stand in need of any literal specifications by which he may mark the character
of this man on the day of retribution? Will he not be able to read that epistle which he himself has engraven on the fleshly tablets of his heart? Will he not know his own? Will he not recognise all the lineaments of that new creature, which has been fashioned by his own spirit-and on that day when the secrets of every heart are laid open, will not the Sabbath observations of an honest and affectionate believer, flowing, as they do, from the impulses of a love for that law which is written on his mind, be put down among those good deeds which shall be found to praise, and honour, and glory, at the solemn reckoning of the judgment seat.
On the Doctrine of Predestination.
"And now I exhort you to be of good cheer for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved."-Acts xvii. 22, 31.
of any individual-and the whole train of future history is left to the wildness of accident. All this carries along with it so complete a dethronement of God-it is bringing his creation under the dominion of so many nameless and undeterminable contingencies-it is taking the world and the current of its history so entirely out of the hands of him who formed it-it is withal so opposite to what obtains in every other field of observation, where, instead of the lawlessness of chance, we shall find that the more we attend, the more we perceive of a certain necessary and established order-that from these and other considerations which might be stated, the doctrine in question, in addition to the testimonies which we find for it in the Bible, is at this moment receiving a very general support from the speculations of infidel as well as Christian philosophers.
THE comparison of these two verses lands us in what may appear to many to be a very dark and unprofitabe speculation. Now, our object in setting up this comparison, is not to foster in any of you a tendency to meddle with matters too high for us; but to protect you against the practical mischief of such a tendency. You have all heard of the doctrine of predestination. It has long been a settled article of our church. And there must be a sad deal of evasion and of unfair handling with particular passages, to get free of the evidence which we find for it in the Bible. And independently of Scripture altogether, the denial of this doctrine brings a number of monstrous conceptions along with it. It supposes God to make a world, and not to reserve in his own hand the management of its concerns. Though it should concede to him an absolute sovereignty over all matter, it deposes him from his sovereignty over the region Assenting, as we do, to this doctrine, we of created minds, that far more dignified state it as our conviction, that God could and interesting portion of his works. The point the finger of his omniscience to every greatest events of the history of the uni-one individual amongst us, and tell what verse, are those which are brought about by the agency of willing and intelligent beings; and the enemies of the doctrine invest every one of these beings with some Sovereign and independent principle of freedom, in virtue of which it may be asserted of this whole class of events, that they happened, not because they were ordained of God, but because the creatures of God, by their own uncontrolled power, brought them into existence. At this rate, even he to whom we give the attribute of omniscience, is not able to say at this moment, what shall be the fortune or the fate
shall be the fate of each, and the place of each, and the state of suffering or enjoyment of each at any one period of futurity, however distant. Well does he know those of us who are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and those of us whom he has predestinated to be conformed to the image of his dear Son, and to be rendered meet for the inheritance. We are not saying, that we, or that any of you could so cluster and arrange the two sets of individuals. This is one of the secret things which belong to God. It is not our duty to be altogether silent about the doctrine of predes
tination; for the Bible is not silent about it, I were kept on board, and rendered the full and it is our duty to promulgate and to benefit of their seamanship and their exerhold up our testimony for all that we find tions. They did what other passengers there. But certain it is, that the doctrine could not do. They lightened the ship. has been so injudiciously meddled with- They took up the anchors. They loosed it has tempted so many ingenious and spe- the rudder-bands. They hoisted up the culative men to transgress the limits of mainsail to the wind-and the upshot of Scripture it has engendered so much pre- this long intermediate process, with all its sumption among some, and so much de- steps, was, that the men escaped safe to the spondency among others-it has been so land, and the decree of God was accommuch abused to the mischief of practical plished. Christianity, that it were well for us all, could we carefully draw the line between the secret things which belong to God, and the things which are revealed, and belong to us and to our children.
Now, in the first instance, it was true, in the most absolute sense of the word, that these men were to be saved. And in the second instance, it was no less true, that unless the sailors abode in the ship, they With this view, we shall, in the first could not be saved. And the terms of this place, lay before you the observations apparent contradiction admit of a very obwhich are suggested by the immediate his-vious reconciliation on the known truth, tory in the passage now submitted to you. that God worketh by instruments. He may And, in the second place, we shall attempt carry every one purpose of his into immeto evince its application to us of the pre-diate accomplishment by the direct energy sent day, and how far it should carry an of his own hands. But in point of fact, influence over the concerns of practical godliness.
this is not his general way of proceeding. He chooses rather to arrive at the accomI. In the 22d verse Paul announces in plishment of many of his objects by a sucabsolute terms, that all the men of the ship cession of steps, or by the concurrence of one were to be saved. He had been favoured or more visible instruments, which require with this intimation from the mouth of an time for their operation. This is a truth to angel. It was the absolute purpose of God, which all nature and all experience lend and no obstacle whatever could prevent its their testimony. It was his purpose that, accomplishment. To him belongs that know- at the moment I am now addressing you, ledge which sees every thing, and that there should be light over the face of the power which determines every thing; and country, and this purpose he accomplishes he could say to his prophet, "These men by the instrumentality of the sun. There will certainly be saved." Compare this is a time coming, when light shall be furwith what we have in the 31st verse. By nished out to us in another way—when this time the sailors had given up all hope there shall be no need either of the sun or of the safety of the vessel. They had toiled, the moon to lighten the city of our habitaas they thought, in vain—and in despair of tion---but when the glory of God shall doing any good, they ceased from working lighten it, and the Lamb shall be the light the ship, and resolved to abandon her. thereof. But this is not the way at preWith this view they let down the boat to sent, and, therefore, it is both true, that it try the chance of deliverance for them- was God's purpose there should be light selves, and leave the passengers to perish. over us and around us at this moment, and Upon this Paul, though his mind had been that unless the sun had risen upon us this previously assured, by an intimation from morning, there would have been no such the foreknowledge and predestination of light. It may be the purpose of God to God, that there should be no loss of men's bless the succeeding year with a plentiful lives, put on all the appearance of earnest- harvest. He could accomplish this purness and urgency-and who can doubt, pose in two ways. He could make the that he really felt this earnestness at the ripened corn start into existence by a sinmoment of his speaking to the centurion, gle word of his power. But this is not the when he told him, that unless these men actual way in which he carries such deshould abide in the ship, they would not signs into accomplishment. He does it by be saved? He had before told them, in the the co-operation of many visible instrumost unrestricted terms, that they would ments. It is true, he can pour abundance be saved. But this does not restrain his among us even in the midst of adverse practical urgency now-and the urgency weather and unfavourable seasons. But he of Paul gave an alarm and a promptitude actually does it by means of favourable to the mind of the centurion-and the cen- weather and favourable seasons. It is not turion ordered his soldiers to cut the ropes in spite of bad weather that we receive which fastened the boat to the vessel, that from his hands the blessings of plenty the sailors, deprived of this mode of escape, but in consequence of good weathermight be forcibly detained among them-sunshine and shower succeeding each and the soldiers obeyed--and the sailors other in fit proportion---calm to prevent the
poses in any way that suits his purposes. He made Paul speak. He made the centurion listen and be impressed by it. He made the soldiers obey. He made the sailors exert themselves. The conditional assertion of the 31st verse was true; but he made the assertion serve the purpose for which it was uttered. He overruled the condition, and brought about the fulfilment of the absolute prophecy in the 22d verse. The whole of this process was as completely overruled by him as any other pro
same power by which he can cause the wind of heaven to fly loose upon the world, make the rain descend, the corn ripen into harvest, and all the blessings of plenty sit in profusion over a happy and a favoured land.
There is no inconsistency, then, between these verses. God says in one of them, by the mouth of Paul, that these men were certainly to be saved. And Paul says in the other of these verses, that unless the centurion and soldiers were to do so and so, they should not be saved. In one of the verses, it is made to be the certain and unfailing appointment of God. In the other, it is made to depend on the centurion. There is no difficulty in all this, if you would just consider, that God, who made the end cer
shaking of the corn, and wind in sufficient | nations, as he is of the elements. He reigns quantity to winnow it, and make a prospe- in the mind of man, and can turn its purrous ingathering. Should it be the purpose of God to give a plentiful harvest to us next year, it will certainly happen, and yet it may be no less true, that unless such weather come, we shall have no such plentiful harvest. God who appoints the end, orders and presides over the whole series of means which lead to it. These visible causes are all in his hand. They are the instruments of his power. The elements are his, and he can either restrain their violence, or let them loose in fury upon the world." Now, look upon human beings as the in-cess in nature-and in virtue too of the very struments of his pleasure, and you have an equally complete explanation of the passage before us. You will be made to understand how it is true, that it was God's absolute purpose that the men of the vessel should be saved, and how it is equally true, that unless the sailors abode in the ship, they could not be saved. Why, the same God who determined the end, gave certain efficacy to the means which he himself had instituted and set agoing for the accomplishment of the end. It does not at all affect the certainty of God's influence over these means, that in addition to wind, and water, and material elements, there were also human beings employed as instruments for carrying his purpose into execution. It is expressly said of God, not only that he still-tain, made the means certain also. It is eth the waves of the sea, but that he also stilleth the tumults of the people, and that he can turn the heart of man as the rivers of water, turning it whithersoever he will. He appoints the end, and it does not at all lessen the sure and absolute nature of the appointment, that he brings it about by a long succession of means, provided that it is his power which gives effect to every step in the progress and operation of these means. Now, in the case before us, there was just such a progress as we pointed out in the case of a favourable harvest. He had determined, that all the men of the vessel should be saved; but agreeably to the method of his administration in other cases, he brought it about by the operation of instruments. He did not save them against the use of instruments, but he did it by the use of instruments. The instruments he employed were men. Paul speaking to the centurion-the centurion ordering the soldiers to cut the ropes, and let the boat away from the vessel-the sailors obliged to work for their own safety-these were the instruments of God, and he had as much command over them as of any others he has created. He brought about the saving of the men by means of those instruments, as certainly as he brings about a good harvest by the instrument of favourable weather, and congenial seasons. He is as much master of the human heart, and its determi
true, that the end was certainly to happen, and it is as true that the end would not happen without the means-but God secured the happening of both, and so gives sureness and consistency to the passage before us.
Now, it is worth while to attend here both to the conduct of Paul who gave the directions, and to the conduct of the centurion who obeyed them. Paul, who gave the directions, knew, in virtue of the revelation that was made to him some time before, that the men were certainly to be saved, and yet this does not prevent him from urging them to the practical adoption of means for saving themselves. He knew that their being saved was a thing predestinated, and as sure as the decree of heaven could make it; but he must likewise have known, that while it was God's counsel they should be saved, it was also God's will that they should be saved by the exertions of the sailors-that they were the instruments he made choice of-that this was the way in which he wished it to be brought about; and Paul had too high a reverence for the will of God, to decline the use of those practical expedients, which formed the likeliest way of carrying this will into effect. It is a very striking circumstance, that the same Paul who knew absolutely and unequivocally that the men were to be saved, could also say, and say with truth,
that unless the sailors were detained in the fluence over the concerns of practical godship, they should not be saved. Both were liness. true, and both were actually brought about. We shall rejoice in the first instance, if The thing was done by the appointment of the explanation we have now given, have God, and it was also done by a voluntary the effect of clearing away any of those act on the part of the centurion and his sol- perplexities which throw a darkening cloud diers. Paul knew of the appointment, but over the absolute and universal sovereignty he did not feel himself exempted by this of God. We are ready enough to concede knowledge, from the work of practically to the Supreme Being the administration of influencing the will of the people who were the material world, and to put into his hand around him; and the way in which he got all the force of its mighty elements. But them to act, was by bringing the urgency let us carry the commanding influence of of a prevailing argument to bear upon them. Deity into the higher world of moral and He told them that their lives depended upon intelligent beings. Let us not erect the it. God put it into Paul's heart to make use will of the creature into an independent of the argument, and he gave it that in-principle. Let us not conceive that the fluence over the hearts of those to whom it agency of man can bring about one single was addressed, that by the instrumentality iota of deviation from the plans and the of men, his purpose, conceived from eter-purposes of God; or that he can be thwartnity, and revealed beforehand to the Apos-ed and compelled to vary in a single case tle, was carried forward to its accomplish- by the movement of any of those subordinate beings whom he himself has created. There may be a diversity of operations, but it is God who worketh all in all. Look at the resolute and independent man, and you there see the purposes of the human mind entered upon with decision, and followed up by vigorous and successful exertion. But these only make up one diversity of God's operations. The will of man, active, and spontaneous, and fluctuating as it ap pears to be, is an instrument in his handand he turns it at his pleasure-and he brings other instruments to act upon itand he plies it with all its excitements-and he measures the force and proportion of each of them—and every step of every individual receives as determinate a character from the hand of God, as every mile of a planet's orbit, or every gust of wind, or every wave of the sea, or every particle of
And again, as the knowledge that they were to be saved, did not prevent Paul from giving directions to the centurion and soldiers for saving themselves, neither did it prevent them from a practical obedience to these directions. It does not appear whether they actually, at this time, believed Paul to be a messenger of God-though it is likely, from the previous history of the voyage, that they did. If they did not, then they acted as the great majority of men do, they acted as unconscious instruments for the execution of the divine purposes. But if they did believe Paul to be a prophet, it is highly striking to observe, that the knowledge they had gotten from his mouth of their really and absolutely escaping with their lives, did not slacken their utmost degree of activity in the business of working for the preservation of their lives, at a bid-flying dust, or every rivulet of flowing ding from the mouth of the same prophet. water. This power of God knows no exHe is a prophet from God-and whatever ceptions. It is absolute and unlimited, and he says must be true. He tells us that we while it embraces the vast, it carries its reare to escape with our lives-let us believe sistless influence to all the minute and unthis and rejoice in it. But he also tells us, noticed diversities of existence. It reigns that unless we do certain things, we shall and operates through all the secrecies of not escape with our lives-let us believe the inner man. It gives birth to every purthis also, and do these things. A fine ex-pose. It gives impulse to every desire. It ample, on the one hand, of their faithful dependence on his declarations, and, on the other, of their practical obedience to his requirements. If one were to judge by the prosperous result of the whole business, the way in which the centurion and soldiers were affected by the different revelations of Paul, was the very way which satisfied God-for it was rewarded with success, and issued both in the fulfilment of his decree, and the completion of their deliverance.
II. We now come to the second thing proposed, which was to evince the application of the passage to us of the present day-and how far it should carry an in
gives shape and colour to every conception. It wields an entire ascendency over every attribute of the mind; and the will, and the fancy, and the understanding, with all the countless variety of their hidden and fugitive operations, are submitted to it. It gives movement and direction through every one point in the line of our pilgrimage. At no one moment of time does it abandon us. It follows us to the hour of death, and it carries us to our place and our everlasting destiny in the region beyond it. It is true, that no one gets to heaven, but he, who by holiness, is meet for it. But the same power which carries us there, works in us the meetness. And if we are conformed to the