« AnteriorContinuar »
ly things can fully reach the case before us: because the infinite dignity of the great King of the universe, against whom we have rebelled, not only renders our past, but even our present guilt, infinitely great. The true convert therefore not only deserves eternal damnation in the highest exercises of repentance, every whit as much as he did before, according to law and strict justice : but also deserves eternal damnation afresh for the imperfections attending his very repentance. The blood of Christ, and the gracious declarations of the Gospel, are therefore in an eminent and peculiar sense, the only foundation of hope there is in his case. But of this more afterwards.
VII. If the design of Christ's mediatorial office, labours, and sufferings, was to do honour to the divine law, and if hereby he has opened a way for the honourable exercise of divine grace towards sinners; then on the cross of Christ, every motive, every encouragement to repentance for sin, and a hearty reconciliation to God, is collected and brought 10 a point. God is declared to be an absolutely perfect, an infinitely glorious and amiable Being, infinitely worthy of supreme love and honour, and universal obedience. The divine law is declared to be holy, just, good, and glorious : our disaffection and rebellion to be altogether groundless and infinitely criminal : and yet we have the fullest proof, that God is ready to forgive, through the blood of his own Son, all those who repent and return to him, in the name of Christ. In which all the motives and encouragements to repentance and reconciliation are virtually comprised. Had the Son of God died, because the law was too severe, to purchase abatements, &c. the cross of Christ itself had justified our disaffection to that perfect rule of right, and our enmity to the divine character therein exhibited. The cross of Christ bad declared, that we were right, and that God was wrong. But when he obeys the law himself, and in his own body bears its curse on the tree, in our room and stead, because the law was good, to do it honour; if we still object we have no cloak for our sin. Nay, we must give up our objections, or renounce Christianity. To believe the Gospel to be true, is to give up all our objections as impious and blasphemous; to acknowledge God to be wholly right, and take all the blame to ourselves; to come cordially into the import of Christ's death, is to look upon God as infinitely glorious, and ourselves as infinitely odious: truths sealed by that blood which made atonement, and opened a way for our pardon. And if God is infinitely worthy of supreme love and honour, and universal obedience ; and if we never had any reason to be disaffected to him; and if our rebellion from first to last has been entirely groundless ; nay, infinitely criminal; and if yet, after all, God is ready to forgive us on Christ's account, and invites us to return and be reconciled through bim, and offers in this way to become our God and Father for ever ; what further, by way of motive or encouragement, can be presented before our minds, to induce us to repent and be converted, to return and be reconciled to God? And yet, all this is set in the strongest point of light on the cross of Christ, if he died because the law was good, to do it bonour. Compare Rom. iii. 25, 26. and 2 Cor. v. 20, 21.
have entitled them to pardon. And therefore, “ a bare belief of the bare truth," is not the whole of what is comprised in the Scripture notion of justifying faith. But, says Mr. Sandeman, (Letters on Theron, p. 417.) “ if more than a bare persuasion of the truth be admitted as requisite to justification,” the whole of Christianity is overthrown: to which it may be answered, that Peter made repentance requisite, Acts üi. 38. & iü. 19. But, says Mr. Sandeman, “the sin. cere penitent may be saved without any Christ or atonement at all ;” p. 89, &c. No: Peter not only said, repent, but also, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. And constantly affirmed, that there is no other name whereby we must be saved. Peter's penitents, therefore, could be saved only in the name of Christ. But to say that repentance is before forgiveness, overthrows the whole Gospel in Mr. Sandeman's view; and indeed it does over. throw his whole Gospel, viz. that there is forgiveness with God through the atone. ment, for penitent sinners, while such, before any act, exercise, or exertion of the mind. But of this more in Sect. v. and viii.
There can now, therefore, be nothing but our disinclination to a reconciliation to God, that can be as a bar in the way
of our return. For on God's side, all things are ready, and he invites us to come. His oven and fatlings are killed ; the feast is prepared, the doors of his house, the gates of heaven are open, and we apostate, bell-deserving rebels, have not only free liberty to return to our allegiance, but are urged, are beseeched, and that by God himself and by his Son,
to be reconciled. Every beauty meets in the divine character, and every excellency in his government; our disaffecrion is not only groundless, but infinitely criminal; and all this is declared, is sealed and confirmed, by the very blood that was shed to make atonement. Nothing, therefore, can keep us back but our own hearts, nor can the fault be any where but in ourselves. How inexcusable our guilt, how aggravated our damnation, if, after all, we refuse to return and be reconciled!
Should any say, “I do look upon the divine law, holy, just, and good ; and I feel reconciled to God.” Well : but how came this to pass ? “I believed myself delivered from the curse, and that God was reconciled to me.” If this is all, you are still blind and deaf to the import of the cross of Christ, which declares the divine character to be perfect in beauty, and his law to be holy, just, and good, previous to the consideration of our being pardoned ; and that our disaffection to the divine character and government was inexcusable and infinitely criminal; and would have remained so, had we never been forgiven. It is not the divine cha racter and government, therefore, you are reconciled to; but the whole of your reconciliation consists in a belief that you are safe. And this is not to be reconciled 10 God: it is only to love yourself. “But it is impossible I should be reconciled to God on any other ground.” That is, impossible you should look on the divine character and government perfect in beauty, without a blemish, although thus declared to be, on the cross of Christ, and the declaration sealed with the blood of God's own Son. Christ died to condemn your sin; to declare your disaffection infinitely vile : you extenuate your sin, and justify your disaffection ; and cry, “it is impossible I should do otherwise; impossible to look upon God as a
; lovely being, only in belief of his love to you ;” which is implicitly to say, that there is “no loveliness in the divine nature, only on account of his love to you.” And so, if you are damned, God will be no longer God. Language not of an bumble penitent, but of an haughty rebel : not harmonizing with the import of the cross of Christ ; but exactly the For bad it not been a becoming, glorious thing in
God to punish sin according to its desert, the death of Christ had been entirely needless.
Sin an infinite Evil.
AS to the degree of faultiness there is in sin, or in other words, as to the degree of blame-worthiness there is in a creature's becoming disatfected to, and rising in rebellion against, the infinitely glorious God that made hivi, it cannot be determined by the sentiments of the rebels themselves, who will naturally be apl to extenuate their fault, and justify their conduct. There is no so easy and safe a way to determine this point with exactness as to appeal to the judgment of God, who knows what our obligations to obedience precisely are, and with the greatest exactitude balances the degree of our blame. And besides, it is by his judgment this matter is to be finally decided.
But the divine law, which is a transcript of the divine nature, and which expresses the very sentiments of his heart, and by which he will finally judge the world, in the penalty it has threatened to the transgressor, exactly determines what God's judgment is in this case. In which it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. This curse contains all that evil, which the law threatens, and which Christ came to deliver us from, and which the wicked will be doomed to at the day of judgment. What the wicked will be doomed to at the day of judgment, when God will render to every man according to his works, our Saviour has deternined in the most express manner, (Mat. xxv. 41. 46.) Depart from me, ye cursed, into ederlusting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shull go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal. It will be more tolerable for some wicked men at the day of judgment than for others, as some are guilty of fewer and less aggravated crimes; (Mat xi. 20. 24 ) but however different the degrees of pain will be to different persons, yet the misery of each one will be eternal; i. e. infinite in point of duration. For no one is ever to be released out of hell. For there is a great gulph fixed, Luke xvi. 26. and the fire is never to be quenched and the worm never to die. Mat. ix. 44. 46. 48. for the wicked are to be punished with everlasting destruction, 2 Thes i. 9. and as the divine law denounces the curse for the first transgression, for any one sin ; so there is consequently no one breach of the divine law, but what in the judgment of God deserves everlasting misery. But everlasting misery is an infinite punishment. And therefore in the judgınent of God there is an infinite evil in sin.Yea, there is no one transgression of the divine law, but what is infinitely evil.
And it must be remembered, that this law, in which the Judge of all the earıb threatens eternal misery for any one transgression, for not continuing in all things, was in force and binding on all mankind, antecedently to a consideration of the gift of Christ and the work of redemption by him : and was by God esteemed to be holy, just, and good, and the whole world, Jew and Gentile, were by him looked upon as guiltv, their mouths stopped without excuse, no objection against his law, no plea in their own behalf to make: not one word to say. And in this view, he gave his only begotten Son to die in their stead. To deny this, is to renounce the Gospel. And all, who believe that Christ died to save sinners from the eternal torments of hell, must grant, that antecedent to a consideration of his death, they were justly exposed to such a punishment, as otherwise his death for this end had been needless. But if they were justly exposed to such a punish: ment antecedently to a consideration of his death, then sin, previous to a consideration of the grace of the Gospel, was an infinite evil. But,
I. If sin is an infinite evil, antecedently to a consideration of the gift of Christ, then God is infinitely worthy of supreme love and universal obedience from us, considered merely as being what he is in himself and our Creator. For if he is not infinitely worthy, we cannot be infinitely obliged. And if our obligations are not infinite, we cannot be infinitely to