Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and care not what becomes of my fellow-creatures, yet as I love myself, if I am happy, I am content.” Which is really to declare myself destitute of all godliness and humanity, and under the entire government of self-love.—But,

2. The objection is founded on an hypothesis which is contrary to plain fact, viz. that it is inconsistent with that love which created intelligences owe to themselves, to view it as a glorious thing in God to punish sin according to its desert. For, 1st. It in fact appeared a glorious thing in God to punish sin according to its desert, to the angels that stood, that very moment satan was driven out of heaven' down into an eternal hell, and that with application to themselves. For there was not one of them but was ready to say from the bottom of his heart, “ It is a glorious act in God to punish those rebels as he has done." And it would have been as glorious an act in God to have punished me in like sort, had I joined in their rebellion. 2d. It in fact appeared to Adam, before the grace of the Gospel was revealed, that it would be a glorious thing in God to punish him according to law, if he should sin. For otherwise the character of God exhibited to his view in the law he was under, had not appeared glorious in his eyes. 3d. It will, in fact, appear at the day of judgment, a glorious thing in God to punish the wicked according to their desert, to all holy beings, and that in perfect consistence with the highest exercises of the purest benevolence. Besides,

3. If it is not a glorious thing in God to punish sin according to its desert, there is no glory in the cross of Christ, iu which sin was punished according to its desert, in the sinner's representative, the Son of God incarnate. Nay,

4. If the law does not appear glorious, antecedent to a consideration of the grace of the Gospel, the grace of the Gospel cannot be seen. For the relief granted to us in the Gospel is of grace, of mere pure grace, simply on this ground, that the divine law is holy, just, and good, a glorious law in itself. For had it not been such, God had been obliged in justice to have granted us some relief. Besides,

5. Let a man, blind to the glory of the law, be ever so fully assured in his own mind, that he is delivered from the curse, although it may allay his heart-risings, because he is safe himself, and because he cares little wbat becomes of others, yet it has in its own nature not the least tendency to reconcile him to the divine law, or to the divine character therein exhibited. If God's pardoning my sins were the grounds of the law's loveliness, then a belief of pardon might convince me of the loveliness of the law. But the law is as lovely if I am punished, as if I am pardoned; for it is what it is. And granting pardon cannot render a bad law good; belief of pardon, therefore, only pacifies the angry mind of a guilty sinner, but has no tendency to convince him that the law is in itself good; witness the Pharisees in our Saviour's day, who, notwithstanding their assurance of heaven, were most inveterate enemies to the divine character exhibited in the law, which character was exemplified in the life of Christ. They have both seen and hated both me and my Father. John xv. 24. Witness, also, all open professed Antinomians, of the devoutest sort, who profess the assurance of the love of God, and at the same time appear the most avowed enemies to the divine law. Nay, an assurance of pardon in this case always confirms the native enmity of the heart to the divine law, as is plain froin this. Let one of these people be convinced they are in an unpardoned state, and be awakened to some sense of the dreadfulness of eternal damnation; and their disposition to murmur and blaspheme, will be great in proportion to the greatness of their former confidence, Thus the Israelites, who after the giving of the law, setting up the tabernacle, and approaching to the borders of the promised land, had their confidence of arriving there raised to its greatest height, now were prepared on their disappointment, when the spies returned, to feel worse toward God than ever they had done before. Besides,

6. If, instead of its being owing to the badness of our hearts, it is, in the nature of things, impossible that the law should appear glorious, and the divine character therein exhibited, antecedent to a consideration of the grace of the Gospel, then contrary to the express words of the apostle, the Gentiles, who never heard of the Gospel, are not without excuse, in their want of conformity to the divne law, in their ungodliness, in their not glorifying God as God. Rom. i. 18. 21. For they have a very good plea to make for themselves; an excuse that will fully justify them. For, as the objector rightly supposes, that kind of impossbility, which is owing to nothing bad in us, takes away all blame. Therefore, every mouth is not stopped, neither doth the whole world stand guilty before God, as to this particular. And thereupon St. Paul's Gospel, which is built on this foundation, is overthrown, if this objection is allowed to be of weight. And what is here said of the Gentiles, may be equally said of every impenitent sinner, who as yet knows not that he shall be ever the better for the grace of the Gospel, in the world to come. According to the objection, it is impossible, and therefore it is not the duty of such to love God; and their not loving him is no crime; and so Christ did not die to make atonement in this case, nor are we to repent, or to ask God to forgive us. All this will follow, if it be no crime for a sinner not to love God and his law, while as yet he knows not but that he shall perish for ever". And,

p To avoid these consequences, a late author, who affirms that the divine law requires what is “utterly impossible ;” yea, what implies "love to our own eternal destruction,” and so is “ inconsistent with our duty, contrary to our original constitution, and to the law of God :" yet, at the same time maintains, that this very law is “ holy, just, and good," binding on all mankind. By holy, just, and good, he seems to mean precisely the same thing that other people do by unholy, un. just, and cruel ; and aecordingly he affirms, that "no loveliness conceivable," can be discerned in that character of the Deity, which is exhibited in his law, and that it is “utterly impossible” to love it. However, he also affirms, that all mankind ought to love it, and are self-condemned if they do not.” And that, although it is not owing to the badness in our hearts that we do not; yea, although it is in its own nature “utterly impossible, inconsistent with our duty of self-preservation, and love to ourselves," and so, in its own nature, "contrary to our original constitution, and to the law of God.” A remarkable scheme of religion this ! Query. Can there be any sin, or can we be self-condemned, in not loving a character which has no loveliness in it? Can that law be holy, just, and good, which requires us, on pain of eternal damnation, to do that which is in it. self sinful, “ contrary to the law of God?” Yea, rather, is not that a wicked law, which requires us to do a wicked thing, to do what is contrary to the law of God? Is not that a tyrannical law, which requires us to do that which is impossible, not through the badness of our hearts, bat “ utterly impossible,” let our hearts be ever so good, “contrary to the original constitution of reasonable creatures !"Would not the Holy one of Israel have been obliged, in honour to himself, to have laid aside such an upreasonable, sinful, wicked, tyrannical law, had there

а

7. If we are justifiable in our native dislike to God's law, if we are not to blame for being enemies to the divine character therein exhibited, then to be reconciled to this character of God, is no man's duty, and so is no part of religion. A man may be a good man, and yet an enemy to that character of God which is exhibited in the law. Yea, perfectly holy, while he perfectly hates it. And so regeneration becomes a needless thing. For there is no need of a new divine spiritual principle to be begotten in us, to enable us to love God simply under the notion of a benefactor. For it was our Saviour's maxim, that sinners love those that love them. If the divine character, as exhibited in the divine law, is not to be loved, there is nothing in revealed religion but what we can love, without any other principles than those which are natural to us.

We therefore on this hypothesis are not fallen creatures, nor do we need to be born again.' All we need is a revelation that God loves us, and will make us for ever happy. The redeemer and the sanctifier, may both be left out of the account. So bad a law deserves no honour; and let that be set aside, and God love us, and we shall naturally love him, without any special influence from above. And thus the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ is overthrown.

But it is a plain case, that it was not originally the duty of finite intelligences to love themselves in such sort, as to look upon it an unamiable thing in God to punish them according to their crimes, in case of their revolt. This would

suppose, that it was originally their duty to be enemies to God's government. This kind of self-love is peculiar to apostate creatures; and instead of being a duty, is of the nature of sin. Instead of being innocent, it is pregnant with enmity against God's true and real character. It ought therefore to be called by the proper name, which God has given it, a carnal mind; not the least tincture of which belonged to the original constitution of an innocent creature. For the carnal

never been a mediator? Would it not be inconsistent with every perfection of the divine nature to give his Son, to become incarnate by his life and death, to show the greatest respect, and do the greatest honour to such a law? Does not Antinomianismi lead directly to infidelity ? See Mr. Cudworth's Further Defence of Theron and Aspasio, p. 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227.

a

mind is enmity against God, is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. Or, if we would give it another name, we may call it pride. For what is it but pride, for a sinner to think himself so good, and of such vast importance, that God must forfeit his character, and cease to be lovely, if he only punishes him according to his desert ? Would it not be accounted pride in a murderer, to think the chief judge must lose his own character, if he pronounces the sentence of death upon him? That is, if he does what, in the eyes of every impartial man, it becomes bim to do? And would it not be a full proof of a proud, haughty, impenitent, inimical spirit, in a traitor on the gallows, if when urged to say, “ God save the king," he should reply," it is impossible for me to wish the king prosperity, so long as I am doomed to die?” When in reason he ought to lake the blame of bis ruin wholly to himself.Nor has he any ground to dislike his king and country, or be the less benevolent toward them because he is punished according to his desert. Rather he ought to go out of the world, saying, "Let all his subjects love and obey their most gracious Sovereign, although I receive my just desert, and am banged for my treason." For his king is as worthy of the universal love and obedience of his subjects, as if he had never been so wicked as to bring himself to such a miserable end. And nothing but a criminal state of mind can prevent its appearing so to him. And if God's law be holy, just, and good, the application is easy. But to all this I may add, what would alone of itself have been a full answer to the objection, that Saint Paul does the supposed impossible deed, viz. pronounces the law in contradistinction from the Gospel, even as a ministration of death and condemnation to be glori

2 Cor. ii. 7. 9. But to proceed, 3. If the divine law was holy, just, and good, a glorious law, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, then this apostate world might justly have been held bound by it for ever, and no relief provided. God was no more obliged in point of justice to provide relief for fallen man, than for fallen angels. In this respect we stood on a par with them. Our revolt did not render God less amiable in himself, or less worthy of our obedience, nor in the least free us from our

a

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »