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On Monday evening, (Decem. 11,) I had the happiness to find Paulinus at home, alone in his study ; he received me with all the politeness of a gentleman, and with all the undissembled goodness of a christian. After inquiring into the state of religion in Great-Britain, when I came from thence; perceiving by what was said, my acquaintance with Aspasio, he made some inquiries after him, and his sentiments of religion, and about a book he has lately so strongly recommended*. Which gave me an opportunity, without letting him into the state of my soul, a thing I was loath to do, to bring upon the board the topics I designed. Wherefore, I began.
Theron. Sir, may I know your sentiments relative to some points in these books ?
Paulinus. I am willing you should know my sentiments on any of the doctrines of religion ; but should choose to say nothing of the sentiments of any particular author by name.
Ther. I am sensible this is not so desirable, nor should I ask it, but that I am not a little embarrassed between the scheme of religion advanced in president Edwards' Treatise on Religious Affections, and this advanced in these books. And I want to know, what may be said in answer to the particular arguments of these divines. And I shall consider all you say, how plain soever : for I desire you to use the greatest freedom, not in a personal light, as designed to refect at all on these authors; but only as designed to give instruction to me. And if you could particularly answer several things I find in them, it would give me much more satisfaction, than to hear your opinion in general. Besides, you know what authors publish to the world, they voluntary submit to the examination of all. And if the good of mankind, which all authors profess to seek, calls for a particular examination of any of their writings, they cannot consistently be displeased, if they are used with candour. These authors themselves have taken the greatest freedom to speak of the sentiments of divines, ancient and -modern. And I know my dear Aspasio would be perfectly pleased to hear you, with the utmost freedom, make all your remarks and observations on his piece ; for he is one of the most candid, generous, good-natured gentlemen I ever saw :. Pray, Sir, therefore make no excuses, nor be at all upon the reserve.
* Mr Marshal's Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification ; " which I shall not, (says Mr. Hervey,) recommend in the style of a critic, or like a reader of taste, but with all the simplicity of the weakest christian ; I mean from my own experience. It has been made one of the most useful books to my own soul ; I scarce ever fail to receive spiritual consolation and strength from the perusal of it. And was I to be banished into some desolate island, possessed only of two books besides my Bible, this should be one of the two, and perhaps the first that I would choose.” See Mr. Hervey's Dialogues, edit. 3. vol. III. p. 336.
N. B. This 3d edition of Mr. Hervey's Dial. is referred to in what follows; and the 6th edition of Mr. Marshal. D. shall stand for Mr. Hervey's Dialogues, vol. III. M. shall stand for Mr. Marshal's Gospel-mystery, &c. As both these books contain one complete system, so both shall be considered together.
Paul. What particular points, Sir, do you refer to?
Ther. The nature of LOVE TO GOD, of JUSTIFYING FAITH, and of ASSURANCE. To begin with love to God. I desire to know what is the primary and chief motive, which ought to induce me to love God ? A view of the ineffable glories of the Deity, as he has manifested bimself in bis word and in his works ? Or a belief of his love to me in particular?
Paul. Before we inquire into the original grounds of love to God, pray tell me, what in God are we to love? and how are we to love him?
Ther. “The Lord is not at all loved with that love that is due to him as Lord of all, if he be not loved with all our heart and spirit, and might. And we are to love every thing in him, his justice, holiness, sovereign authority, all-seeing eye, and all his decrees, commands, judgments, and all his doings*.”
Paul. Who are under obligations thus to love God? saints, or sinners ? Christians, or heathens ? Some, or all of mankind ?
Ther. All mankind. Even the heathen, who are without
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any written law or supenatural revelation, are obliged by the light of nature to love God with all their hearts; and that under the penalty of God's everlasting wrath*.
Paul. If all mankind, even the heathen world not excepted, are thus under infinite obligations to love God with all their hearts, and to glorifi, Go:l as God, (to use the apostle's expressions, Rom. i. 21.) it must needs be that there is a ground and reason of love to God antecedent to a consideration of his being our reconciled Father and friend in Jesus Christ. For the heathen, millions of them, never heard of Jesus Christ, And there are great multitudes in the Christian world, who live and die without an interest in God's fatherly love in Christ. And yet you say, all these are under such obligations to love God with all their hearts, that they will deserve his eternal wrath for the least neglect. And indeed the holy Scriptures most expressly assert the same thing, Rom. i. 18– 21. Gal iii. 10.
Ther. But, Sir, is it not impossible t we should love God before we see that he is our reconciled Father and friend in Jesus Christ? We must know that our sins are forgiven, and be well persuaded that God is reconciled to us, before we can love him
Paul. God never manifests himself as a reconciled God and Father, to any of the children of inen, until they are first reconciled to him, and love him. John xiv. 21. Acts iji, 19, Their first love to God, therefore, must of necessity begin on some other foundation, from some other inducement; or they never can begin to love him at all.
* M. p. 4, 5.
† Should a lying fellow bring tidings to an impenitent prisoner justly condemn. ed to die for murder, assuring him of a pardon from his judge; the deluded mur. derer might be full of love to his judge, and greatly extol his justice, as well as goodness, and pour out floods of tears : but ou discerning his mistake, he would soon return to his former temper. God's nature and law are just the same before he forgives us as after ; and as worthy to be loved. But it is easier for an impenitent sinner to commend God's law, in a firm belief he is delivered from the curse, than to love it as being in its own nature holy, just, and good. Satao knows, it is no evidence of uprightness in God's account, that a man is very religious, it all his religion arises merely from selfish considerations. Job i. 8, 9, 10, 11. #M. p. 21. 25. VOL. II.
Ther. But what is there in God, that can induce us to love him, unless we first know that he loves us ? I appeal to the experience of all the true saints, as inconsistent with your supposition*
Paul. This is the language of God's law, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. Pray, what reasons and grounds are there for this law ? Answer my question first, and then I will answer your's. Tell me the grounds and reasons of this law, and I will tell you what there is to induce us to love God before we know that he loves us.
Ther. The law teaches us, first to believe that God is our Gon, our reconciled Father and Friend: Thou shalt love the Lord thy Godt.
Paul. God is our God, the God of the whole human race, as he is our Creator, our Preserver, our rightful Lord and Sovereign, who has an entire and absolute authority over us: but he is not a reconciled Father and Friend to all the human
Rather the whole world lieth in wickedness. 1 John v. 19. And the greatest part of mankind are under the divine wrath. Johu iii. 96. And God is angry with them every day; his soul hates them, and he is whetting his sword for their destruction, if they repent not. Psalm vii. 11, 12. xi. 5. And yet even while in such a state, you grant, they are under infinite obligations to love God with all their hearts; and that the least defect exposes them to eternal damnation. Nor have you granted any more than St. Paul expressly asserts, Gal. iii. 10. Now, pray tell me, is this a reasonable law?
Ther. I grant this law is holy, just, and good I.
Paul. But then it will follow, that there are reasons and grounds why God should be thus loved, antecedent to a consideration of his being our reconciled Father and Friend. Reasons and grounds which are sufficient ; which really oblige us in point of duty : and therefore ought to influence us in practice. And if we are not influenced by them, we are to blame. Yea, so much to blame, you say, as to deserve God's eternal wrath.
Ther. It is certain, that all the perfection, goodness, and
• M. p. 25.
† M. p. 28.
# M. p. 4.
excellency of the divine nature, cannot render God an amiable object to us, unless we know that he loves us, and is our reconciled Father and Friend*.
Paul. The first question is not, whether unregenerate sinners, while dead in sin, and enemies to God, do actually love God: but whether they ought not to love him. Whether the perfection, goodness, and excellency of the divine nature is not a proper inducement, which renders it reasonable and fit: yea, which obliges; nay, infinitely obliges them to love God. I think you must grant this; for how else can the law be holy, just, and good ?
Ther. If I should grant that the perfection, goodness, and excellency of the divine nature, does render it fit and reasonable that we should love God with all our hearts; yet it is impossible we sbould love him, except first we know he loves ust.
Paul. If God is really a being infinitely amiable in himself, and if it is fit and reasonable we should love him for the perfection, goodness, and excellency of his nature, then there is, yea, there can be no difficulty in the way of the practice of this duty, but what lies in the badness of our hearts; and so, what we are to blame for. And therefore, were our hearts right, we should love him for his own loveliness, and feel disposed to glorify God, as God; as the very heathen ought to do, who never heard of his designs of mercy by Jesus Christ. Nay, all the heathen world are at this day, and ever have been, entirely without excuse, in not being thus affected towards the infinitely glorious God that made them. Yea, they are for this infinitely to blame, so as to deserve eternal wrath. And this is St. Paul's doctrine, Rom. i. 18.
• M. p. 25. † M. p. iv. 25.
# If our hearts were right, i. e. were as they ought to be, were as the law requires them to be, we should love God for his own loveliness. But in regeneration our hearts begin to be right; therefore, then, even at that instant, we begin to love God for his own loveliness. For at that very instant when the vail is taken from our hearts, we all with open face, behold as in a glass, the glory of the Lord. 2 Cor. Üï. 18. Even the law, as a ministration of death and condemnation, appears glorious. ver. 7. 9. But every man is to blame, that his heart is not right. Theron pleads impossibility. St. Paul, however, declares this kind of impossibility to be no excuse. Rom. i. 20, 21.