Thomas Robinson.

The Christian system : unfolded in a course of practical essays on the principal doctrines and duties of Christianity (Volume 1) online

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BT 74 .R62 1805 v.l
Robinson, Thomas, 1749-1813
The Christian system






tCrt



THE




CHRISTIAN SYSTEM



UNFOLDED IN A COURSE Q-P f

PRACTICAL ESSAYS

ON

THE PRINCIPAL DOCTRINES AND DUTIES
OF CHRISTIANITY.



IN THREE VOLUMES,
VOL. I.



_



By THOMAS ROBINSON, M.A.

vicar of st. mary's, Leicester.



Holdfast the form of sound words, in faith and love, n-hich is in Christ

Jesus.

For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine.
2 Tim. i. 13. iv. 3.



LONDON:

PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR y

AND SOLD BY F. C. AND J. RIVINGTON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-
YARD, AND BY J. HATCHARD, BOOKSELLER TO
HER MAJESTY, 100, PICCADILLY.

1805.



c&ntm* at jfetarionrrs l£aH<



THE

CHRISTIAN SYSTEM.

VOLUME THE FIRST,

CONTAINING

PRACTICAL ESSAYS

ON

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES,

THE STATE OF MAN,

THE CHARACTER AND OFFICES

OF

JESUS CHRIST.



VOL. I.



INTRODUCTION.



The author submits to the public eye the fol-
lowing statement of his views of revealed religion,
not without fear respecting his execution of the
work, but with a cheerful hope of its utility-
through the drvine blessing. He comes not for-
ward as a disputant or a controversialist ; but as
a plain, practical writer, desirous to promote the
purposes of christian faith and holiness. He is
willing that others should judge and speak for
themselves ; and towards those, from whom he
differs, he wishes to exercise, as he ought, can-
dour and charity. At the same time he claims
the liberty of maintaining his own sentiments
with firmness, as being persuaded of their truth
and importance. They have not been formed in
haste, but after serious enquiry and deliberation ;
and they are now advanced, as he trusts, with
humility and caution.

The chief attention of his life has been occu-
pied by these subjects, not merely in the retire-
ment of bis study, but in the active performance

a2



viii INTRODUCTION.

of his ministerial duties. He has been labouring,
not without effect, to establish among the people
of his charge what he conceives to be the funda-
mental principles of the gospel, and upon them
as a firm basis to erect the superstructure of
christian morality, of solid devotion, and of vital
holiness. And now, with a view to their spiritual
progress, and in the hope that his instructions
may be remembered with advantage after his
personal services on earth are terminated, he
sends to them from the press the substance of
what he has invariably delivered from the pulpit.
They are requested to consider the work as pri-
marily undertaken for their benefit, and to accept
it as a token of his pastoral care and 'most affec-
tionate regard for them.

His desire is to speak to them in private as
well as in public : and he has here endeavoured
to provide them with a course of reading in their
families, comprehending all the main articles of
our creed in a connected order, and from the
belief of Christianity enforcing its practice by a
particular and earnest application. Let such a
plan of domestic instruction be introduced and
constantly maintained in their houses, and he shall
indulge the hope of enlarging and continuing his
usefulness among them.

It is probable that he may be read by many
others; and to all of every description he strongly
recommends a serious examination of those



INTRODUCTION. IX

principles, which are to himself the source of
richest consolation. He bespeaks their attention
and candour, while he endeavours to unfold to
their view the christian system, and lays
before them in the plainest and most unreserved
manner the principal doctrines and duties of our
holy religion. He has searched the scriptures
with diligence, and from them he professes to
draw all his deductions.

His plan has been, after considering the strong
and decisive evidences of the inspiration of the
old and new testament, and attending to that
state of mind with which they ought to be re-
ceived, to investigate what is their grand object
and what their most important contents. They
were undoubtedly designed to communicate the
knowledge of the true God and of his will con-
cerning us. They exhibit his character in the
varied perfections of his nature, and call upon us
to yield to Him all possible reverence, love, and
obedience. They describe his formation of the
earth, and the peculiar administration of its go-
vernment by himself.

Man is introduced to our view as a creature of
high excellence and dignity, as bearing the image,
and constituted the vicegerent, of Jehovah. But
he is also represented as having fallen from his
original eminence, and sunk into a deplorable state
of depravation and misery.

Here the system becomes unspeakably, inte-
3



X INTRODUCTION.

resting. To console us in our distress, to rescue
us from merited and impending ruin, a divine
person interposes; and to Him give all the scrip-
tures witness. He is the grand subject of reve-
lation: "the alpha and omega, the beginning
and the ending." It is therefore requisite that
we fix a large share of our attention upon Him,
and enquire what are the offices he sustains, and
by what means he procures reconciliation for us.
We behold him relinquishing the glories of the
heavenly world, and voluntarily submitting to
the deepest humiliation and sufferings upon
earth. He saves by various methods; and in the
accomplishment of his great work a distinct con-
sideration is given to his teaching, his example,
his righteousness, his atonement, his intercession,
and his government.

Another divine person is introduced in this
vast economy, cooperating with the Saviour,
and fulfilling his gracious purposes. The Holy
Ghost claims our adoration, affiance, gratitude,
and love. By the most amazing process He re-
covers men to the knowledge, the similitude, the
service, and the enjoyment of God. He brings
them to the present possession of the blessings of
redemption ; He forms their character; He guides,
preserves, and cheers them ; and gradually pre-
pares them for the fruition of the eternal inhe-
ritance reserved in heaven for them.

Our attention is then directed to this u chosen



INTRODUCTION. XI

generation," this cc peculiar people/' whom the
Lord has saved. They are distinguished, not
more by their high privileges and consolations,
than by their steadfast perseverance in moral and
religious duties. The rule of obedience is pro-
posed, its extent is shewn, and its excellence
vindicated. The servants of God are also men
of prayer, and are daily surrounding the throne
of grace with their importunate petitions. They
are instructed what and how they should ask,
and are assured that they shall obtain the bles-
sings they supplicate. They are considered also
in a collective capacity, are incorporated into a
spiritual society, and by certain divine institu-
tions they maintain communion with their hea-
venly Father and with each other. Such is the
Church of Christ on earth; and all its faithful
members are in succession removed to a better
world, where the whole company will shortly be
assembled together, and, receiving their " perfect
consummation and bliss both in body and soul,"
shall reign with their exalted Head in glory
everlasting.

These are the outlines of the system here propo-
sed, and the author does not hesitate to pronounce
that the representation is scriptural, and contains
the substance of genuine Christianity. It is pro-
bable that his publication may be examined with
a critical acumen, for the purpose of determining
the party, with which he must be ranke^ 9£



fell INTRODUCTION.

assigning to his system some (discriminating name.
He is not solicitous about the result of such an
enquiry. All he asks is, that the solemn decla-
rations he now makes may be credited : he has
not implicitly attached himself to any leader,
however eminent tor learning, piety, or useful-
ness. In this sense he calls no man master.
Much less does he wish to erect the standard of
faction, or establish any Shibboleth. There are
writers, whose theological sentiments he con-
siders as more congenial with bis own, than those
of some others. But he is not conscious of taking
up any one opinion on their authority, or bowing
to their decisions with servile submission : pro-
bably from most of them he may differ in certain
respects.

Whatever appellation may be given him, he
will still maintain that he has followed no other
guide than the inspired volume : only he will
add, that he has received peculiar satisfaction
upon finding himself in perfect agreement with
the principles of our established church. Her
creeds, her articles, her plan of worship, her mi-
nistry, and government, he approves, he reveres,
as more agreeable to the scriptures, than those of
any other christian society: and he is desirous of
employing his influence, whatever it may be, for
the support of this venerable fabric, which it has
pleaded God to honour in a distinguished man-
lier, and which he hopes will long be continued



INTRODUCTION. Xlil

as the brightest ornament of this favoured king-
dom. He therefore acknowledges no other cha-
racter than that of a regular and consistent
minister of the church of England ; and he con-
ceives that in this capacity he is most effectually
promoting the prosperity of the Redeemer's
kingdom, and the best interests of society.

The fastidious critic should be apprized that
this work is not adapted to his taste. Here are
no learned or curious disquisitions to amuse him ;
no ornaments of style or language to yield him
pleasure. It would have. been easy to multiply
references to writers of high credit, and to pro-
duce large quotations, in support of this view of
the christian system. But such a mode would
have swell'ed the publication to an unnecessary
and inconvenient length, and might have been
censured as an ostentatious display of extensive
reading. It is sufficient for the purposes intended,
if the numerous texts of scripture, which are
cited, confirm the doctrines advanced. The au-
thor's plan is to state the substance of revelation,
and he has thought it most expedient to express
himself in the very language of the sacred penmen,
without aiming at any adventitious embellish-
ments.

He has not been solicitous to avoid a repetition
of sentiment in difFerent parts of his work : nor
does he think it any objection, that one essay
adverts to some momentous truths, which have



XIV INTRODUCTION.

been enlarged on in another. It should be con-
sidered, that he meant to render each essay a
distinct reading, and to produce upon every sub-
ject the various considerations belonging to it.
Of necessity therefore he must sometimes say the
same things, which he had done before, though
with some variation of manner. He is confident
this will not displease those serious persons, whose
object is, not speculation or debate, but their own
spiritual improvement.

He wishes to remind himself and others, that
the opinion of the world is of little consequence
to those, who should consider themselves as dying
men, whose time of trial will soon be terminated,
who are about to appear before the tribunal of
Christ, and who must abide by his infallible de-
cision. He is chiefly anxious, that his divine
Master may graciously accept this service, and by
his blessing render it effectual for the propaga-
tion of his truth, the enlargement and edification
of his church : so shall the praise be given, where
it is due, to himself alone: — " To Him be glory
both now and for ever." Amen.



CONTENTS.



That the different parts of the system of revealed
religion here unfolded may he more clearly viewed
in their connection and dependence, it was thought
expedient to prefix a large table of the Contents
of the ivhole three volumes, which will also serve
the purpose of an Index.

VOLUME I.

Essay 1. On the divine Origin of the Holy
Scriptures.

The old and new testament contain a wonderful system, —
and are authentic, — written by those, whose names they bear,
—who wrought miracles, — predicted future events, — harmo-
nized with each other,— their language and style appropriate,
—their system not of human contrivance, but by its propa-
gation, tendency, and effects, proved to be divine, and to be
delivered by inspiration.

Essay 2. On the different Characters of the
Infidel and the Believer.

The word of God is denominated " light," — rejected by those
only, who do evil, — who hate the light, — and who fear con-



XVI CONTENTS.

viction, — but is valued by those, who possess integrity,— -who
do not shun but court the examination of the light, — and
whose deeds are wrought in God.

Essay 3. On the Power of God.

The existence of God appears from the light of nature, as do
many of his attributes. Yet these are better learnt from the
scriptures; where it is proved, that He possesses unlimited
power, — from his works of creation, — from his providence, —
from the government, which he exercises, — and from the
operations of his grace.

Essay 4. On the Wisdom and Knowledge
of God.

The infinite understanding of God, his wisdom, and know-
ledge, are manifest from the works which he has made, —
from his providence and government, — from the plan of re-
demption,— -and the methods of his grace.

Essay 5. On the Goodness of God.

Love to God is not excited merely by his power and wisdom,,
but by his goodness. This attribute He claims, and it appears
in the whole of his character and conduct, as our Creator, —
Preserver, — and Redeemer.

Essay 6. On the Patience of God.

The patience of God is displayed upon the earth, and its
greatness appears, I. From what we are, as committing sins,
— in various instances, — frequently repeating them, — with
many aggravations,— especially backsliding, — possessing a de-
generate nature, — and the whole human race being in the
same apostate state. II. From God's other attributes, his sove-
reign majesty, — power, — holiness,— justice, — and goodness.



CONTENTS. XVU

Essay 7. On the Holiness of God.

The holiness of God justly excites admiration. This attribute
proved, from his self-existence, — his moral government, — the
testimony of our conscience, — the declarations of scripture, —
the extent and spirituality of the law, — the system of mercy
in the gospel, — the proceedings of the last day, — and the final
separation of the righteous from the wicked. What effect it
should produce upon us.

Essay 8. On the Justice of God.

The justice of God is deducible from his holiness: — proved,
from the common course of his providence, — some signal in-
terpositions, — the nature and sanctions of the divine law,— .
the salvation by Jesus Christ, — and the final decision in judg-
ment. Objections from the present unequal distribution, and
from the divine benevolence, considered and answered.

Essay 9. On the Mercy of God.

The mercy of God is manifested to us, — not satisfactorily by
the light of nature, — but by divine revelation in the fullest
manner. It is unmerited, — distinguishing, — plenteous, and
immutable, — and exercised with a regard to other perfections.

Essay 10. On the Veracity of God.

The veracity of God follows from his other attributes. He
cannot lie ; and on this ground, — his declarations should be
credited, — his promises claim our entire affiance, —and the
execution of his threatenings should be expected.

Essay 11. On the Trinity in Unity.

Caution and humility necessary in our enquiries about the
mode of God's existence. There is but one Jehovah,— but a



XVU1 CONTENTS.

plurality of persons is expressly revealed, — divine honour*
being ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The doc-
trine mysterious, — but important, and of a practical tendency.

Essay 12. On the Creation of Man.

Man is God's principal workmanship upon earth : whence con-
sider—our creation, — the original constitution of our nature,
as including the divine image, — and the chief end and design
of our formation.

Essay 13. On the Corruption of Man's
Understanding.

Man's fallen state, — introduced by the sin of our first parents,
— appears in the corruption of all his faculties, — in that of his
understanding, — the extreme degeneracy of which is proved,
— by the state of the Gentile world, — by that of places fa-
voured with revelation, — by the declarations of holy scrip-
ture, — by the case of real believers, — and by the extreme
stupidity of men in general, as to spiritual things, even under
greatest advantages.

Essay 14. On the Depravity of the human
Will.

The nature and freedom of the will considered. Its depra-
vity appears, inasmuch as man invariably chuses evil, from his
very birth, — and is obstinately bent upon it 5 — which is con-
firmed by sad examples, — by the declarations of scripture,—,
and of the church. Objections answered.

Essay 15. On Man's depraved Affections
towards God.

The character of man must be collected from facts, as well as
from the scriptures. What the affections are ; and how exer-



CONTENTS. Xix

cised towards God. They are extremely depraved, as man is
indisposed to think of God, — is averse to his service, — and
shews the strongest dislike of his being and perfections, of his
government, law, and gospel.

Essay 16. On Men's depraved Affections
towards each other.

Man is not affected toward? his rellow-creatures, as a pure and
holy being would be 5 which appears from the general violation
of all relative duties, — from the prevalence of envy, — from the
sad and universal abuse of the tongue,— from the corruption
of the world through lust, — from the general want of probity,
—and from the malignant tempers which every where prevail.

Essay 17. On Men's depraved Affections
with respect to themselves.

Man, considered in his individual capacity, appears a depraved
creature, and actuated by wrong affections, as he is proud, —
selfish, — foolish, weak, and inconsistent, — and carried away
by sensual desires.

Essay 18. On Man's Depravity, in his Imagi-
nation, Judgment, Memory, and Conscience.

Man's depravity appears in the perversion of his various men-
tal faculties, — in his imagination, — in his judgment — in his
memory, — and in his conscience, which is often erroneous,
weak, and callous.

Essay 19. On the Misery of Man as a Sinner.

Sin has introduced much misery into the world. There is a
general dissatisfaction among all ranks. — Man is continually
liable to calamities and bodily afflictions, — experiences great
disquietude in his mind, — and as a moral creature is unhappy,
dreading futurity.



XX CONTENTS;

Essay 20. On Man's Slate of Condemnation.

]\Ian, as a depraved creature, is under condemnation. He is
accused by his own conscience, and in his present sufferings is
marked by God's displeasure. — God's righteous character re-
quires some token of his indignation. — His holy law declares
every one accursed j — and his gospel is founded on man's
liableness to punishment What this punishment is: its
eternal duration.

Essay 21. On Man's Inability to recover
himself.

Man is declared to be helpless as well as guilty. He has no
power to recover himself, as he cannot remove the sad effects
of sin, — with respect to God, — or his fellow-creatures, — or
himself. — The salvation proposed in the gospel proves his in-
ability ; — and all, who are redeemed to God, acknowledge it.

Essay 22. On Salvation by Grace alone.

A brighter prospect opens. — We are not left in despair. — Sal-
vation is entirely of grace. — The plan originated with God,—
and was carried into effect by himself alone, — sending his
Son into the world, and admitting of his mediation by sacrifice.
—He appoints the means of grace and the publication of the

gospel, where and by whom he pleases. The reception and

enjoyment of this salvation depend upon his influence, which
is so bestowed as to display the freeness of his grace. — The
progress also and completion of the work prove it to be of
God°.

Essay 23. On the Godhead of the Saviour.

Different opinions maintained concerning the person of our
Redeemer. His real Godhead proved, from the testimony of
ancient prophets, — of himself, — of apostles,— of holy angels*



CONTENTS. XXI

—of the catholic church -, — from his names and attributes j—
from his works and offices ; — from the high regard due to him,
—The doctrine mysterious but important.

Essay 24. On the Humiliation of the Saviour*

The abasement of Christ wonderful; but acquiesced in by
faith.— The time of his appearance most suitable : the cir-
cumstances evince his grace and condescension. — He assumed
our ni ure, and submitted to the lowest state. — As man, he has
exhibited a perfect pattern, — honoured the law, — redeemed
us from the curse, — and obtained for us an inheritance.

Essay 25. On the prophetical Character of
Jesus Christ.

Jesus appeared as a prophet, — according to ancient predic-
tions, — resembled Moses, — taught the authority, extent, and
spirituality of the divine law, — the necessity of regeneration,
—salvation through faith in his blood, — and foretold many
future events. Never man spake with so much wisdom,—
tenderness, — and dignity. Yet he is disregarded in this
character.

Essay 26. On the Example of Jesus Christ.

The general influence of example. Necessity of a consistent
conduct in public teachers. Jesus Christ is the only perfect
pattern, I. With respect to God, — in subjection to his will, —
constant and cheerful obedience, — zeal for his glory, — ardent
devotion, — patient resignation. II. With respect to himself,
- in condescension and submission,— magnanimity, — and
1 eavenly-mindedness. III. With respect to men, — in a firm
resistance of evil, — subjection to parents and governors, — kind-
ness and compassion,— forbearance and love of enemies.

vol. 1. h



xxii cdNiUNtS.

Essay 27. On the Righteousness of Jesus
Christ.

The obedience of Christ was designed to be more than an
example. The law requires from us a perfect righteousness,
— which we cannot perform,— but the gospel provides. Christ
fulfilled the law for us. — His righteousness meritorious,— im-
puted to believers, — so represented 1 by prophets and apostles
But the faith, which receives it, is not meritorious. The
doctrine guarded and improved.

Essay 28. On the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Part I.

The sufferings and death of Christ much insisted on : — their
nature and design. The general dread of God shews a con-
viction of the necessity of some propitiation. That Jesus
Christ made a real and efficacious atonement by his blood, ap-
pears from the ancient types and figures, — from ey c press decla-
rations of scripture, — from every part of practical Christianity,
— and from the worship of heaven.

Essay 29. On the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Part II.

The death of Christ, though generally disregarded by men r

is the object of God's counsels, held forth to our view as the

appointed atonement, — in all the scriptures, — in the ministry
of the gospel, — in the Lord's supper, — admired and rejoiced in
by believers, as a proof and instance of the love of God,- — a
manifestation of his righteous character, — vindicating the au-
thority and excellence of his law, — confirming our hopes. Yet
objected to, — as contrary to reason, — as dishonourable to the*
divine character,— as hostile to morality.



contents, xxiii

Essay 30. On the Resurrection and Intercession
of Christ.

Our security depends on the fe-assomed life of Christ. That
he rose from the dead, appears from the testimony of his apos-
tles, — and from the communications of his grace ; — shews the
truth of his doctrine, — his Deity, — the efficacy of his sacrifice,
— his triumph over enemies, — and the Opening of the kingdom
of heaven to us. That he maketh intercession with the Father,
— clearly declared, — typified by the Jewish high-priest, — repre-
sented by his own prayer on earth : — for whom this intercession
is carried on:— no other necessary : — -suggests strong conso-
lation,

Essay 3 J. On the Mediatorial Government



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