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1 TIMOTHY, vi. 3, 4.
IF ANY MAN TEACH OTHERWISE, AND CONSENT NOT TO WHOLE-
SUCH, as is expressed in the last clause of the text, was the effect in the days of the apostle, and such has been the effect in every subsequent period, of a departure from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and an inattention to the fact that his doctrine is simply a doctrine which is according to godliness. Not satisfied with what is revealed,— with the plain, intelligible truths of the bible,-men have been disposed to exercise their ingenuity, or indulge their fancy, on subjects that were obscure, or left wholly in darkness. The abstract nature of the GODHEAD, the divine decrees, the ingredients of future happiness and future misery, and various other topics, on which it hath not pleased God to give us precise information, have too much occupied, and do still too much occupy, the minds of men, to the neglect of those truths which it most
concerns them to know. There is still, as there has always been, a doting about questions, and strifes of words, and the consequence is, as it always has been, envy and strife and railing and evil surmisings.
All the revelations of God's works and word, and all the dispensations of his providence, have one end, and one only,-the moral improvement of his intelligent creatures.
It is true that in the works of nature there is much that seems to be addressed only to the intellectual part of man, and much that appears only designed to gratify his senses. A wide field is opened before him, in which he may expatiate free,' and find, at every step, new stores of knowledge, and new sources of enjoyment. But in all the provision that is made for the gratification of sense and intellect, there is a higher end than is answered by this gratification. There is reference to man as a moral and immortal being. The ultimate design of all that God has done in the works of nature to make us wiser and happier, is to make us better.
And so it is with his providence. Be our condition prosperous or adverse, adapted to make us joyful, or to make us sorrowful, the ultimate object is the same. GOD is infinitely happy because he is infinitely good. He desires that his creatures, like himself, should be happy, but they cannot re
semble him in his happiness unless they resemble him in his goodness.
We come to the scriptures,-the appropriate theme of our discourse,-and here the same design is apparent as in the other revelations of GOD. There was but one object in the mission of Jesus Christ; there is but one object in the doctrines and precepts of the gospel. This object is holiness,the advancement of the moral perfection of mankind. If Christ gave himself for us, as he surely did, it was that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. If he spake as never man spake, it was because he taught a purer and holier doctrine than the tongue of man had uttered, or the heart of man conceived. Man had wandered from the path of duty, and was lost in the devious, intricate paths of transgression. GOD sent his Son to seek and to save him; to bring him back from his wanderings; to reclaim him from disobedience and misery, to duty and happiness.
There is a distinction between theology and religion, an attention to which would go far, I am persuaded, towards healing the divisions which have disgraced the christian church. In its most extensive sense, religion includes theology, in as far as theology relates to the being and attributes of GOD, to his government and will, this is moral theology; but there is a speculative theology, and
a scholastic theology, whose technics are not to be found in the bible, and have little reference to the great purpose for which the bible was given us.
Religion is an internal principle. It has its seat in the heart,' and from thence sends forth the lifeblood through the whole moral frame. It is found in the wise and the simple, in the learned and the unlearned. Theology, in its strictest sense, is a science. It is founded, as every science must be, on clear, certain, self-evident principles. Speculative theology is,-I know not what. It is one thing with one man, and another thing with another man; and sometimes a very strange, unnatural, distorted thing it is.
Religion, in its proper sense, can be productive of no mischief, but is fitted to be the instrument of great good. In its primitive sense, it implies a bond of union; it binds us to GoD and to one another; it is a solemn obligation to obedience;-it is godliness, or piety, and consists in the practice of duty to God and to man. Such is the religion of the scriptures, and the only one in which we have any real concern. But theology, as distinguished from this, as consisting in speculation about dogmas and points of doubtful disputation, has been productive of much mischief in every age of the church. It has not bound men together, but divided them. It has called off the attention, in too 1 Matt. xv. 19. Luke xvii. 21. Rom. ii. 29; x. 10. Heb. xiii. 9. &c. &c.