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righteousness; and so in his death he magnified the law and made it honourable. Isai. xlii. 21. But there is no wisdom in doing honour to that which is not worthy of honour. And therefore,
If the divine law was not holy, just, and good, and did not in its own nature deserve to be magnified and made honourable at such an infinite expense as the blood of the Son of God, how was it wise in God to give his Son to die for this purpose ? And if it was not wise, how was the divine conduct in this affair in any respect Godlike and glorious ? If it was not wise, it was unwise. It must be unwise to be at such infinite expense, if the nature of the case did not call for it, if the law did not deserve such honour. And if there was no need of such an atonement in order to our pardon and salvation, it was no act of kindness to us. We might have been saved as well without. And it the law was in its own nature too severe, it could not be a holy or a just act in God to require such an atonement in order to our pardon and salvation ; but the contrary
It must therefore be laid down as a fundamental maxim, that the divine law in its full extent, and with all its curses, and that with respect not only to Adam in innocency, but also to all his sinful race, in whose stead Christ has borne its curse, is really, in itself, and in the eyes of God, holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable, worthy of having its honour secured by the blood of the Son of God. For there can be no glory in the death of Christ, if the law be not glorious.Rather, it must have been contrary to all the divine perfections for God to have given his Son to die, to do honour to that which deserved no honour. And the Gospel which brings us the news, instead of revealing the glory of God, would bring to light an affair infinitely and everlastingly to his dishonour.-For,
How must it appear in the eyes of all holy beings, if the law was good only with respect to Adam before the fall, but not with respect to him or his posterity since ; that Christ should be made a curse, to redeem not only Adam, but to re-: deem us from the curse. That Christ should die to make atonement not only for the one oftence of Adam, his first sin,
but the MANY offences of Adam and of his sinful race; even for every breach of that law, which curseth every one, that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. If the law had not been in its full extent, holy, just and good, with respect to a fallen world, surely a being of perfect rectitude and infinite goodness, must have disannulled it, and not subjected his own Son, in our stead, to bear the curse.
If indeed we are a fallen, sinful, guilty world, (and if we are not, we did not need the Son of God to die in our behalf,) it is not at all strange, if there should be many and great prejudices in our hearts against the divine law, which we have broke, and by which we stand condemned, blinding our minds to its reasonableness and excellency, and tempting us to think it far from being holy, just, and good. Nor is it at all strange, if satan, who was banished from heaven by a like law, and is an avowed enemy to God and to his government, should desire to strengthen our prejudices against the divine law, and do all in his power to blind our minds, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine in our hearts. But only let our hearts be divested of prejudices, and in a disposition to approve that which is really excellent, and we cannot fail to discern the reasonableness and beauty of the divine law. For,
If God is an absolutely perfect being, (and to deny that he is, is downright atheism,) he must be infinitely glorious and amiable in himself : and therefore he must be infinitely worthy of that supreme love and honour, from all the children of men, which the law requires. And infinite worthiness lays a foundation for infinite obligation : and infinite obligation to love and honour God supremely, will render us infinitely to blame if we do not: and infinite blame deserves infinite punishment: exactly as the divine law, that perfect rule of right, has stated the case. And the more disinclined we be to love God, the more aggravated is our guilt: and if our inclination to love God with all our hearts is what it ought to be, there can be no difficulty in the way. So that there is no consistent medium between atheism, and an acknowledgment that the divine law is holy, just and good . And further,
• If Gọil is not an absolutely perfect being, in himself infinitely glorious and
If this absolutely perfect, infinitely glorious being, who is by nature God, is the creator and preserver of all things; if he brought all things out of nothing into being, and holds up all things in being every moment; then all things are absolutely and entirely his, by an original, independent right. And if all things are his, he has a natural right of government over all. And it becomes him to take the throne, and be king in his own world." Supreme authority naturally belongs to him, exactly as the divine law supposes.
When therefore be takes the throne, assumes the character of moral Governor, requires all the human race to love the Lord their God with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their strength, and with all their mind, on pain of his displeasure, to be testified in their being eternally forsaken of God and given up to ruin, he does what perfectly becomes him. His conduct is founded in the bighest reason. For he is by nature God, and the original Lord of all things.
amiable, the divine law, which requires us to love him with all our hearts on pain of eternal death, can never be made out to be holy, just, and good. And if the law is not holy, just, and good, the wisdom of God in the death of his Son can never be vindicated. The Gospel must be given up. He, then, who denies the infinite amiableness of the Deity, as he is in himself, saps the whole Scripturescheme at the foundation. He must be an infidel ; or, if he pretends to believe Christianity, he must hold to a scheme full of inconsistence. We have an instance of this in Mr. Cudworth. He denies the infinite amiableness of the Deity, as he is in himself; and maintains, that there is “ no loveliness conceirable" in him, but what results from his being our friend,“ disposed to make us happy." When, therefore, we had made him our enemy by sin, he maintains, that there was no loveliness to be seen in him: yea, that let our hearts be ever so right, it was" utterly impossible” to love him ; even inconsistent with our original constitution as reasonable creatures. The divine law, surely, then, could not in reason be obligatory on a fallen world : it became a bad law, not fit for us to be under, as soon as ever we broke it : which to say, he owns, is subversive of Christianity. What then shall we say? To say, that the law is “holy, just, and good," when it requires of us what is “ inconsistent with the original constitution of reasonable creatures,” is the most glaring, shocking self-contradiction. But into this Mr. Cudworth is necessarily driven, by his denying God to be, in himself, an infinitely amiable Being. For if God is not a lovely Being, when we have made him our enemy by sin ; yea, if his very displeasure against us as sinners, is not a lovely thing, he never can be loved by us. If to hate and punish sin, is in God an upamiable thing, there is no beauty at all in his character, as will be proved in the sequel. If Mr. Cudworth will re-consider his own scheme, and with a scdate, impartial mind, look to the bottom of things, he will find himself obliged to alter his notion of God, or give up Christianity. And if he should grant, that God is, in himself, infinitely amiable, all his objections against my Dialogues must drop of course. For as soon as the sinner's eyes are, in
regeneration, opened to see things as they be, God will appear to be infinitely amiable : and then every consequence will follow, which, I say, does follow. He was sensible of this; and so had no way left but to deny, that God is, in himself, infinitely amiable; in which he has destroyed the only foundation on which a consistent sch, me of religion can be built, and olliged himself to run into inconsistence and sdf-contradiction. See Mr. Cudworth's further Defence, p. 221. 226.
And had all the human kind, in mutual love and perfect harmony among themselves, (as also the divine law requires,) joined with one heart and with one soul, in a supreme love lo the supreme beauty, and in an entire, cordial, joyful subjection to their Creator and supreme Lord, and absolutely perfect sovereign ; and continued universally obedient to all the dictates of his will, which must for ever have been infinitely wise ; they might, as one united, harmonious, happy family, have always dwelt under the shadow of his wings, enjoyed his favour, his smiles, his blessing, and made eternal progress in all divine improvements, rejoicing ever before him, to his honour, and infinitely to their own advantage. And all this was but the very thing the divine law was in its own nature calculated to bring them to : for the law was ordained to life. Wherefore the law was holy, just, and good ; and a glorious expression of the holiness, justice, and goodness of the divine nature, the very image of the deity. And therefore it was worthy to be kept in honour by God's own Son. Besides,
When in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and all things that are in heaven and in the earth, visible, and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, he then created all things for himself, with a view to begin a moral kingdom, comprehending all holy intelligences, and to set up a moral government to last for ever and ever; the welfare of which must consist in, and result from, the knowledge and love of God, and mutual love and harmony under bis perfect government. That is, in such tempers, employments, and enjoyments, as the divine law was calculated to train them upto. And as this boly kingdom was so large, comprehending all holy intelligences ; and of such great duration, to last for ever and ever; its interest and welfare was, strictly speaking,
of infinite value. It was therefore of infinite importance, not only as to the honour of God, but also as to the good of his great and eternal kingdom, that the honour and authority of that law should be maintained inviolate, which secured the rights and prerogatives of the Godhead, and the infinite ly valuable privileges of all his subjects.
To break this law, in its native tendency, was to dethrone God and disband bis empire, to introduce universal rebellion, discord, and ruin into God's eternal kingdom. And had the first rebel had sufficient power and influence on his side, he would actually have dethroned God and disbanded his empire, introduced universal rebellion, discord, and ruin, into God's eternal kingdom. Yea, ibis is the native tendency of every sin, and the heart of every sinner, as I have largely shown in another place P. Therefore, to crush rebellion; to brand sin with eternal infamy; to establish the divine authority; to maintain the divine law in all its honours, were things of infinite importance, not only to the honour of God, but also to the welfare of his great and eternal kingdom.
Therefore, when satan and his adherents first began rebellion in heaven, although dear to God before their fall, yet love to being in general, love to God and to the created system, love to law, to virtue, to order, and harmony, awakened infinite wrath in the Almighty against the rebels ; excommunicated them from the Church of the first-born above ; banished them from that holy society, and doomed them to eternal darkness and wo : that sin might be pictured in all its infinite horrors in the hearts of all his loyal subjects above, that the infection might never spread in that world, but the honour of his authority, law, and government, be more firmly established than ever, to the glory of his name, and to the everlasting interest of his great and eternal kingdom. And all heaven had reason to cry, Amen, HALLELUJAH: Just and righteous are thy wuys, Lord God Almighty.
And if after this, rebellion breaks out in another part of God's dominions, is there less, nay, is there not rather greater reason, that sin should be equally discountenanced ? Or rather,
Sermon on the great evil of Sin.