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our constitution both of Church and State.
§ 49. I may farther digress, in this place, that it has been very much the custom of late years to decry all system in religion. - And what is System, but a whole exhibited with a due consistency or agreement among its several component parts ? This is the sense of the word. And, if this be system, can there be any art or science, any general truth made up of particulars, without it? It would seem ridiculous, in the affairs of this world, to dispute such an idea : And, in religion, hath not the wisdom of God given-uis a pure plan or system of unerring truth, every portion of which has a firm and necessary connection with all the rest in a bright and beautiful order? The synthesis of divine truth will bear an analysis, which cannot be said of the heterogeneous mass of human undigested errors. What
can appear more perfectly arranged, when understood, (for, unhappily it is but too little understood,) than the whole ritual, called the Ceremonial Law, which is neither more nor less than the Gospel of Christ in shadow or emblem, and was intended as a mean to direct the people of Israel to look for the Messiah, and to act faith upon him, through those carnal ordinances, till he should appear? If the shadow or figure of good things to come be so perfect and complete, as it certainly is, and does appear to be upon the most correct examination; how much more the things themselves ? And is not the Covenant of Grace, also, which insures them, ordered and complete in its several and distinct objects and intentions? Is it to be supposed, that divine Wisdom should build without a plan or arrangement ? Do not its providential dispensations and creations perfectly harmonize “ in num
ber, weight, and measure ?" And shall its greatest glory that we can know, the vast economy of redemp. tion, according to the eternal counsel of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be without a specific arrangement of parts, concord, and determination ? Will any man say, that God hath revealed principles, which are discordant with each other, and can never compose one general body of truth, merely because he himself is not able to comprehend it? And is it not the privilege of every Christian to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of divine truths, so as to be able to apprehend more and more, through the teaching of the Divine Spirit, the Height and Breadth, the Length and Depth, of the Love of Christ? And, though ultimately, these, like diverging rays, máy surpass the extent of his apprehension ; yet they are not different, though distinct, from each other, nor
yet will lead him into faithless contradictions and perplexities. But may not the plea against all system in religion be founded upon the desire, rather of partially introducing doctrines, which, when detached, may be distorted and misunderstood, than principles forming togсther the whole counsel of God, and containing in unison the sum of the Scripture, and so less liable to perversion? Doubtless there are doctrines which are so heterogeneous as to be irreconcileable with each other, and can by no means be brought into the proportion or unity of truth.
No wonder, then, that their authors or patrons cry out against system, the object of which is to show forth the concord or disagreement of principles.
I beg not to be understood in this case, as pleading for a system of man's devising, but for the whole of that consistent train of truths, found every where
in Holy Writ, and which, when placed together, by comparing things spiritual with spiritual, constitute what the Apostle calls THE ANALOGY OF FAITH, and which he himself was enabled by the Spirit of God most beautifully to exemplify in that body of Divinity, his Epistle to the Romans. It is matter of serious concern, that many professing, and (I hope) serious, people seem so frightened by the alarm, which some men, not too intelligent or correct in matters of religion, have thought proper to raise against systems and doctrines, that they revolt at their very name as at poison or danger, and give themselves up to flights and feel. ings really enthusiastic and licentious, under the impressions of a heated imagination. A lively zeal in the things of God is, indeed, almost essential to the Christian life; but it should however be a zeal according to knowledge, and consonant with the