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21. Nay, this doctrine is fundamental to St. Paul's whole scheme of religion. Overthrow this, and you will overthrow his whole scheme ; for it is in this view that he pronounces Jew and Gentile, even the whole world, to stand guilty before God, with their mouths stopped, without one excuse to make for themselves, though doomed to eternal destruction for not loving God with all their hearts. And so holy, just, and good, does he esteem this law to be, as that it was needful the Son of God should be set forth to be a propitiation, to declare God's righteousness, that he MIGHT BE JUST, and not go counter to all good rules of government in pardoning and saving true penitents Rom. iii. 9. 26.

Ther. The heathen were liable to destruction for their idolatries, and gross immoralities.

Paul. Yes, and also for their not glorifying God as God. The wrath of God, says the apostle, is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness : against the least degree of disrespect

towards the infinitely glorious Majesty of heaven. The least defect of love towards God, exposes them to eternal destruction. This was the apostle's constant doctrine, and a chief foundation of his whole scheme of principles. Gal. iii. 10. Rom. i. 18. and iji. 20.

Ther. But the Gentiles had not so much as heard of the way of salvation by Christ; and must therefore, if their consciences were awakened, be in fearful expectation of eternal wrath. But surely it must be absolutely impossible we should love God, if we view him, as disposed to punish us in hell for ever.

Yea, “if I look on God as contrary to me, as one that hates me and will damn me, my own innate self-love will breed hatred and heart-risings against him in spite of my heart*."

Paul. That is, the divine law is so intolerably cruel, that unless it is entirely set aside as to us, we can never be pacified towards our Maker. We are in arms, in open rebellion, so virulent that we are full of “ hatred and heart-risings,” in spite of all restraints. And we proclaim in the sight of heaven, our cause is so just, that we can never lay down our arms, fall at the foot of our sovereign and justify his law; nay, we can never have one good thought of him, till first he set aside his law, remove the curse, and grant us heaven upon our demands. Upon this condition we will forgive our lawgiver for what is past, and be at peace for the future. On this footing we will lay down our arms, and be reconciled. Our first work, therefore, is to believe that God doth give Christ and his salvation to us, and is become our reconciled Father and Friend. And this belief is to lay the foundation of all our religion. But, O my dear Theron, such a faith, growing up out of such as unhumbled, unsubdued heart as this, and a religion arising from such a root, is all delusion, if there be any such thing in nature as delusion*.

* M. p 140,

Besides, tell me, my Theron, do you verily believe, that God's disposition to punish sin, according to his holy law, is a hateful disposition? And do you verily believe, that God is an odious Being on this account? Or do you allow yourself to hate God, for that for which he appears infinitely amiable in the eyes of all the heavenly world! Rev, xix. 1. 6. Or is your heart a carnal, unregenerate heart, under the full power of enmity against God and his law ? Rom. viii. 7. It is certain, what you say can never be justified. For if we have given God just cause to hate and punish us, by our wickedness, he is not the less lovely for being disposed to do so, except he is the less lovely for being holy and just ; that is, the less lovely for that in which his loveliness in a great measure consists.

You acknowledge the law is holy, just, and good, even as to the heathen world, who never heard of a Saviour. Therefore, it is not the grace of the gospel that makes the law good. The law is older than the gospel, and was holy, just, and good, before the gospel had a being. Yea, the law had been for ever good, if Christ had never died.

We were not the injured, abused party : Christ did not die to make satisfaction to us, pacify our angry minds, and allay our “ hatred and heart risings.” The grace of the gospel is not granted to counterbalance the rigour of the law, and to render God's plan of government justifiable; and so to sweeten the embitered minds of God's enemies. God the Father was not a tyrant, nor did bis Son die a sacrifice to tyranny, to rescue bis injured subjects from the severities of a cruel law. Nay, if the law in all its rigour had not been holy, just, and good, an tecedent to the gift of Christ; there had been no need God should ever give his Son to die, to answer its demands. It ought to have been repealed on Adam's fall, if too severe for an apostate race; and not honoured by the obedience and death of God's own Son. If this law, as binding on a failen world, is not in itself, holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable; the Gospel of Christ is all delusion. For it is impossible the Son of God should die to answer the demands of an unrighteous law. It was wrong he should bear a curse in our stead, which we ourselves did not deserve. Such an appointment would have been inconsistent with all the divine perfections. If we view the law as too severe, we must view the gospel as not of God; if we will be consistent with ourselves*.

* How righteous is it, in the holy sovereign of the world, to suffer such a proud, self-righteous sinner, so ready to quarrel for a pardon, to be deluded with a false persuasion that he is pardoned! As he takes satan's side against God and bis law; so God may justly leave him in satan's power. 2 Thess. ï. 10, 11, 12

* In Mr. Hervey's ninth Dialogue, vol. II. p. 16. edit. 1st. Aspasio having cited the words of the apostle to prove his point, As many as are of the works of the lar, are under the curse, Gal. iii. 10. Theron objects, and Aspasio answers as follows:

Theron. Under the curse ! because our attempts to obey, though faithfully exerted, are attended with defects ! Is not this unreasonable and shocking ? Unreasonable, that the God of justice should establish a law of such consummate perfection, as no child of Adam can, en with his utmost assiduity and care, fulfil! Shocking, that the God of mercy should thunder out so severe a denunciation, on the least inadvertent breach, on every unavoidable failure! This exceeds the relentless rigour of Dracn, or the tyrannical impositions of the Egyptian task. masters. Draco is said to have written bis laws in blood; yet he never enacted such institutions, as were absolutely too strict and difficult to be observed. And though the Egyptian task-masters insisted upon the full tale of bricks, without al. lowing the necessary proportion of straw, yet the punishment they inflicted, was incomparably less than everlasting destruction.”

Aspasio. Had God Almighty's design in delivering his law to fallen man. kind been to propound the means of their justification, your argument would have been valid, and your inference undeniable. But the supreme legislator had a very different, a far more mysterious end.” That is, he designed the law to be our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ. As Aspasio goes on to show, p. 18, 19, 20, without once thinking, that if the law, antecedent to a consideration of the

Therefore, you and I must approve the law as holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable, with application to ourselves, before we can, with all our hearts, believe the Gospel to be true. And therefore, not a belief of God's love to us, but a view of the infinite loveliness of the divine nature, must reconcile us to the divine law. Nor does this reasoning attempt to prove an impossibility ; but rather it demonstrates the absolute necessity of regeneration, as antecedent to the first act of faith; a doctrine your author does not believe*. And yet a doctrine plainly taught in Scripture. John i. 12, 19.

Ther. Whatever we may do in speculations, when at ease; it is impossible, under a lively sense of the dreadfulness of eternal damnation, that we should, with application to ourselves, approve in our very hearts, the law in all its rigour, as holy, just, and good, as being really amiable and glorious in itself, till we know we are delivered from its curse.

Paul. If the the law, in all its rigour, is not holy, just, and good, glorious and ainiable, before we are delivered from its curse, it is a pity the beloved Son of God was obliged to die to answer its demands. It is a pity that a bad, a hateful law, should be so infinitely honoured in the sight of the whole intelligent system. It is a pity God ever made it; a greater pity he suffered it to stand unrepealed. But the greatest pity of all, that he gave his Son, his only begotten and well beloved Son, worshipped by all the hosts above, to die upon the shameful, painful cross, to answer its demands. The Gospel opens a sad and gloomy scene to all the inhabitants of heaven, if the law is not a glorious law. You may, O my Theron, be ravished to think Christ died for yon, let the law be good or bad; but you can never acquiesce in the gospelway of life by the blood of Christ, as honourable to God, till the law first appears glorious in your eyes : but rather, (forgive me, my friend,) I say, you will rather feel the beart of an infidel in your breast. You may be ravished to think Christ died for you ; although you conceived of God the Father, as acting the part, (heaven forbid the blasphemy!) I say, as acting the part of a tyrant in the whole affair. But then, who can be so stupid, as to believe the Son of God died a sacrifice to tyranny ? “ If you are safe, you care not how.” Is this your heart ? If so, you are quite an infidel. Indeed, this is the heart of every natural man ; and it is equally true, that every natural man is under the reigning power of infidelity. No man can say, that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor xii. 3. Whusoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. 1 John v. 1. See also Rom. x. 9. I John iv. 15*.

interposition and death of Christ, was a cruel law, like that which the Egyptian task-masters urged, it ought to have been repealed. It was a dishonour to God to make it, and a greater dishonour still to appoint his Son to answer its demauds. Nor is a cruel law fit to be a schoolmaster in God's world, or suited to teach us any thing, but to have hard thoughts of God. And yet Aspasio goes on to say, (p. 21.) “ Rather than the divine law should lose its honours, Sodom and Gomorrah were laid in ashes; the ancient world was destroyed with a deluge; the present frame of nature destined to the flames, and all its unholy inhabitants must be doomed to hell. Nay, rather than that the least tittle should pass unaccomplished, its curse has been executed on God's own Son, and all its injunctions have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.” Very true, but does not all this demonstrate, that the law was not too severe and strict, but perfectly holy, just, and good? A glorious law. 2 Cor. üi. 7. And that previous to the consideration of the grace of the Gospel. Had the law been in itself bad, the death of Christ could not have made it good. Therefore, it was not “God's design," that the law should be our schoolmaster, that made the law good : but it was in itself holy, just, and good; and, therefore, it was fit to be our schoolmaster.

* M. p. 135.

The external evidences of Christianity may induce men to such a belief of the Gospel, as that they dare not renounce it, though they do not like it; but will not give a heart-satisfying conviction of its truth, so long as it seems to contain a system of doctrines inconsistent with the moral perfections of God. But at first sight, it appears inconsistent with the moral perfections of God, to give his Son to die in our stead, to answer the demands of a law in its own nature too severe. So long, therefore, as the law appears in this light, no man can heartily believe the report of the Gospel. Gai. iii. 10. 13. And this is one reason that all unregenerate men, who in scripture are considered as enemies to God's law, (Rom. viii. 7. 9.) are represented as not believing the Gospel. (1 John v. 1, &c.) And this shows, how our unbelief of the Gospel arises from our enmity against God and his law, (John vii. 17. & viü. 47.) and so is truly eriminal. (John iii. 18, 19, 20, 21.) And this accounts for the fearful apprehensions of eternal destruction so common to awakened sinners, who begin to see their state by law, but as yet do not approve the law as holy, just, and good. It is not strange their fears run so high, when they do not believe the Gospel to be true. And this accounts for the aptness of awakened sinners to catch hold of false hopes, and build on false foundations : as they are blind to the only true way of escape by Jesus Christ.

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