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blame. It is, therefore, the plain import of the divine law, that the God who made us, and whose we are, is an absolutely perfect, and so an infinitely glorious and amiable, Being.-And that, on this account, we are under infinite obligations to love and obey him. Therefore,
That love to God which arises merely from self-love, in a belief that Christ died for me, that my sins are forgiven, and that I shall be saved, is not that kind of love which the divine law requires, but a love essentially different.--For, one wholly blind to the beauty of the divine nature, and at enmity to the divine character as exhibited in the law, and so in the eye of the law, dead in sin, may be full of this kind of love, even as full of it as the carnal Israelites were of joy at the side of the Red sea.
And to deny that God is to be loved by believers with that kind of love which the divine law requires, is to say, that the Jaw is not a rule of life to believers : it is to set aside the di vine law and real holiness; and to substitute affections merely selfish and wholly graceless in their room. And this is essence of Antinomianism.
It is true, the gift of Christ, considered as a benefit done to us, lays us under infinite obligations to love God with a love of gratitude. But at the same time, the very nature of the gift supposes, that we were before under infinite obligations to love God for his own excellency, and infinitely to blame for not loving him; as otherwise the gift of Christ to be a curse to redeem us from the curse of the law, had been needless. Now practically to deny the infinite amiableness of the Deity, and our infinite obligations to love him as such ; and then to pretend to love God for the gift of his Son, is as though we should say, “ God does not deserve the love the law requires. The law was therefore an uprighteous law. But Christ has redeemed us from its curse, and we are glad.” Which declaration would be a full proof of our enmity to God and to his Son.
JI. If sin is an infinite evil, if not to love the infinitely glorious God our Maker with all our hearts, so as from love to be perfectly obedient to his will in thought, word, and deed, is an infinite evil; then those who are wholly blind to the holy beauty of the divine nature, and consequently entirely destitute of true love and of true obedience, are in the sight of God, infinitely to blame, for every thought, word, and action. Tha plowing of the wicked is sin. The prayers of the wicked are sin. The sacrifices of the wicked are abomination to the Lord. They are, in the whole frame of their hearts, and in the whole tenour of their lives, contrary to the divine law. Rom. viii. 7, 8. The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh, cannot please God. And, ver. 9. this is the character of all who have not the spirit of Christ. And therefore, the whole frame of their hearts, and the whole tenour of their lives, is infinitely odious, hateful, and ill-deserving in the sight of God; exactly agreeable to the import of the curse of the divne law.-Therefore,
When once a sipner's eyes come to be opened really to view things as they in fact are, his false hopes, his self-righteous claims will be dropped in a moment; and the justice of God in his damnation be clear beyond dispute. And God's disposition to punish sin according to law, no longer appear as a blemish, but rather as a beauty in the divine character. And I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, not an ill, but rather a glorious perfection in the Deity. However, these views, and an answerable frame of heart, will not in the least diminish his desert of eternal damnation; any more than the penitence of a wilful murderer will exempt him from the gailows.—For,
III. If sin is an infinite evil, then he who is enlightened in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, believes the Gospel with all his heart, repents, and is converted, still deserves, considered as in himself, and compared with the law of God, chat perfect rule of right, eternal damnation as much as ever he did, because his present goodness does not in the least
z Some late writers, in their zeal against a self-righteous spirit, hardly dare allow faith to be an act, lest it should be made a righteousness of. Just as if a self-righteous heart could not make a righteousness of a passive as well as of an active faith, and be as proud of his passivity as the Pharisee was of his fasting twice in a week. Was this Paul's way to take down a proud self-righteous heart ! who was so skilful and mighty to pull down ! No; far from it; he took quite another method, a method in its own nature apparently suited to answer the end.
counterbalance bis former badness. Nay, instead of paying past debts, he runs continually deeper into debt; as he still falls short of that perfect love and obedience which he owes to God. And so instead of deserving pardon for old sins, be merits damnation constantly by his new ones.
ones. There is therefore absolutely no hope in the case of a true penitent, but from the mere grace of God through Jesus Christ. On the foot of law, there is no more hope in the case of a penitent, than in the case of an impenitent sinner. Because according to law and strict justice, he deserves to be damned now, as much as he did before. For his repentance, which is but of finite worth, when cast into the balance in opposition to his guilt, which is infinite, is lighter than if the smallest atom of matter were Aung into one scale, and the whole material system into the other. For there is some proportion between the least atom of matter, and the whole material system ; but there is no proportion between finite and infinite. And therefore, as in the eye of law, so in the eye of an enlightened conscience, the inost exalted virtue of the most eminent saint stands for nothing; i. e. is absolutely of no weight at all in the least conceivable degree, to counterbalance for any one sin. And so he sensibly beeds Christ and free
grace along with the chief of sinners. To deny this, would be, virtually, to give up the whole of divine revelation. For in this view the divine law threatens eternal death, for any one transgression, without leaving any room for repentance to alleviate the sentence. The transgressor is doomed to eternal misery without hope. This is plain fact. Gal. iii. 10. And this law is declared to be holy, It was to hold forth the divine law in all its strictness, and with all its curses, as holy, just, and good. Witness his Epistle to the Romans and Galatians. Not any distinction between active and passive was ever mentioned by him, or has the least tendency to humble a proud hcart. But to view ourselves in the light of the divine law, will give us our true character, and let us see just what we deserve at the hands of God our judge, and our absolute need of Christ and free grace. It was Paul's maxim, the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Nor can any man possibly see his need of Christ, but by the law; and the law considered as holy, just, and good. For to do honour to the law as such, was the design of Christ's mediation, and that without which his mediation had not been needful for the salvation of sinners. And by the law, the most holy and active saint needs Christ as much as the chief of sinners.
just, and good, to be just what in reason it ought to be; and in this view of it the law-giver judged it inconsistent with reason and justice, and therefore inconsistent with the honour of his righteous government, to exempt a sinner from the threatened punishment, in virtue of any atonement of less value than the blood of his own Son. Another plain fact, Rom. iii. 25, 26. He who denies these two facts, must give up the whole of divine revelation. And to grant them, is to grant all that has been asserted.
It is possible that a sinner may be brought to repentance by divine grace before he is forgiven a Yea, it is certain, that no sinoer ever was pardoned till he did repent. Luke xiii. 5. Acts iii. 19. But it is impossible, that a sinner ever should be justified under any other notion, than as being ungodly. Rom. iv. 5. For one sin in the eye of the law, and so in the eye of God the judge, denominates a man ungodly, and subjects him to eternal damnation. Gal. iii. 10. Nor can any future penitency make any imaginable satisfaction ; he must be justified therefore by God, as being ungodly, or not at all.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon; was the language of the Old Testament. And repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, is the language of the New. Not that the penitent Jew, on the foot of law and justice, could by his repentance be exempted from death. Nay, just the contrary did the penitent Jew acknowledge, when he came before the altar, bringing a bull or a goat to die in his room. For “ I have sinned, I deserve to die,” was the import of his conduct. Not, neither, that the penitent Christian does not deserve the dainnation of hell, notwithstanding his penitency; for this, in the most explicit manner, is acknowledged, in asking pardon in the name of Christ. For, if he is not so bad as to deserve eternal dumnation, he
a This all Antinomians deny : for as true repentance arises from love to God, and implies love to his law, they say, it is impossible to love God or his law, till first we know that our sins are forgiven ; and so it is impossible, that repentance should take place before forgiveness. Of which, more hereafter,
does not need that pardon which the gospel offers. Much less does he need the Son of God to die in his stead, that God may be just, and yet justify him. So that to ask pardon in the name of Christ, is the most explicit acknowledgment, that eternal damnation is our due by law; and that the law is holy, just, and good, a glorious law, worthy to be magnified and made honourable by the obedience and death of the Son of God b.
6 Some of the chief maxims on which St. Paul reasons throughout his Epistle to the Galatians, to prove that no man can be justified on the foot of his own virtue, are these : “ The divine law requires sinless perfection, on the penalty of eter. sal damnation for the least defect. Chap. iii. 10. There is no other law given. ver. 21. If justification could have been obtained by this law, the death of Christ had been needless. Chap. ii. 21.” And from these maxims he cuts off all selfrighteous hopes by the roots. To assert, therefore, that there is a law given, by which a sinner may be justified in the sight of God on the foot of his own virtue, short of sinless perfection, and without any need of Christ's atonement, even on condition of sincere repentance, is flatly to contradict the Apostle. It is surpris. ing, therefore, to find so sagacious a writer as Mr. Sandeman, declaring this with such great assurance : and equally surprising that he should think to prove his point from the 18th and 33d chapters of Ezekiel; when erery pious Jew knew, that, Ict his repentance be ever so sincere, yet according to the whole te. nour of the Mosiac dispensation, without shedding of blood there could be ng re mission. Deut. xxvii. 26. Heb. ix. 22. See Letters on Theron, p. 89, 90,
If it should be inquired, what led so learned a writer to commit such a blun. der? It was in support of his leading design, the darling point in his scheme, viz. That there is forgiveness with God through Christ for impenitent sinners, while such, before any act, exercise, or exertion of their miuds whatsoever.” And. consequently before repentance. A " passive belief” of which he says, “quiets the guilty conscience, begets hope, and so lays a foundation for love.” For if a penitent sinner may be justified on the foot of his own goodness, without any respect to Christ and his atonement, none can stand in any need of Christ and his atonement, but impenitent sinners. And so his main point is proved. For the only design of Christ's death of consequence must be to procure pardon for impenitent sinners, remaining such. For if ever they should be brought to repentance, according to his scheme, they may be justified on the foot of their own goodlness, without any need of Christ or his atonement. And accordingly his good man is nerer brought to true repentance. “ All his godliness consists in love to that which first relieved him." (Letters to Mr. Pike, p. 8.) And there. fore his godliness does not at all consist in love to Go:l's law, without which there can be no true repentance. And, therefore, he can by no means allow that the 119th Psalm gives the character of David, or is applicable to any other good man, because it abounds with such expressions of love to God's law. To whom then must it he applied ? to Christ, he says; forgetting what the Psalmist had sail, ver. 67 before I was aflicted, I went astray. Which is a full proof that