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original natural obligations to love him with all our hearts, and yield a perfect obedience to bis will. If our inclination to love and obey God ceased, yet as bis worthiness of our love and obedience remained, our obligations were in full force, and the law was as reasonable and equitable after our fall as before. And so he was absolutely at liberty, in point of justice, to have held us bound by law, and never have provided any relief for any of the human races. And,
If this is the very truth of the case, it will follow, that it was at God's sovereign election, to determine, whether to grant any relief, or not: and what relief to grant : and when, and to whom. To give his Son to die with a view to save all mankind, or only a part; to send the news of the Gospel to all nations, or only to sone; to give every child of Adam, born in a Christian land, opportunity, by living, to hear the glad tidings, or only to grant this to some, while others die
8 But on the other hand, if there is no loveliness in the divine nature, but what results from his being my friend, then I cannot be obliged to love God, unless he is my friend; for I cannot be obliged to love a being who has no lovelidess in his nature. If there is no loveliness in God, it is no sin, but rather : duty, to think there is none, and feel accordingly. And so, if maukind, by the fall, lost the favour and friendship of God, and fell under his wrath, then, on this hypothesis, their obligation to love him ceased. It was no duty for any
child of Adam to love God; no sin not to love him. And if no sin, then no repentance, no atonement, no pardon was needed in the case. The divine law ceased to be obligatory the moment the favour of God was lost by the fall : and so no child of Adam could be considered as being under it. It had been inconsistent with the divine perfections in God, to have held mankind bound by it; he was obliged in justice, if he brought us into being, to provide some relief for us. Yea, God was obliged in justice to forgive us, and become our friend, or not to require our love. For it would not be just and right to require us to love him, if there is no loveliness in his nature. And, on this hypothesis, there is no loveliness in his nature, till he forgives us, and becomes our friend. And as soon as God for. gives us and becomes our friend, we shall naturally love him, and so we shall not need to be born of the spirit, for that which is born of the flesh may love a friend and benefactor : for sinners love those that love them. And so, on this scheme, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier are needless : and so, if this scheme is true, Christianity is overthrown. It concerns Mr. Cudworth to give a better answer to this reasoning than yet he has done. To say that the divine law requires us to do what is “contrary to the law of God,” and yet is “ holy, just, and good,” is to solve the difficulty by an express self-contradiction. To say that God is in himself infinitely lovely, is to give up his whole scheme. But he must own this, or give up the Gospel. Farther Defence, p. 221, &c. .. VOL. II.
in infancy, and never hear. Those who die in infancy, may as justly be held under law in the next world, as those that live may in this. God is under no more obligations to save those that die, than he is to save those that live; to grant the regenerating influences of his spirit to them, than he is to these. As to those who live and hear the Gospel once, God is not obliged 10 send them the news the second tiine, or to wait a moment longer after the first refusal, and if mankind are disinclined to hearken to the Gospel, God is at liberty to determine what pains to take with them, whether much, or little, or none : whether to use external means only, or to grant the internal influences of his spirit: whether to strive with them a longer or shorter tiine, in a greater or less degree, in a common or a special manner. He may have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he may harden, i. e. leave to their own hearts, under such external circuinstances, as he certainly knows will have this issue. And if any proud conceited rebel thinks himself hardly dealt with, and is ready in a rage to rise against God and against his law, with loud complaints, God is at full liberty, as the blame is wholly on the rebel's side, to treat him accordingly, and in righteous judgment give him up to the deceits of his own heart, and to the delusions of satan, to be led captive by him at his will, into open infidelity, or into delușive hopes and joys, that he might believe a lie, and finally be-damned. 2 Thes. ii. 10, 11, 12.–And thus if the law is good, the whole of the divine conduct toward mankind, in fact, stands justified. For in no part of his conduct is there the least appearance of illegal severity. This never was objected even by his worst enemies. And if his law is good, his whole conduct, therefore, stands completely justified.—And,
If any say that the law was not good, that God could not justly have held mankind bound by it, but was obliged to provide some relief ; then it will inevitably follow, that that book, which affirms the divine law to be holy, just, and good, and attributes the relief provided wholly to free grace, cannot be from God; because its fundamental maxims are false. So that, of necessity, we must grant the law to be good, with all its native consequences, or be infidels. And be who from the heart does not the one, is in fact the other, in the sight of God.
If God was obliged in justice to provide all needful relief, then all the relief he has provided, which is no more than was really needed, is an act of justice. And if it is an act of justice, it is not an act of grace. And so, on this hypothesis, there is in the Gospel, absolutely no grace at all. Or, If God was obliged in justice to provide, at least, some re
then the relief provided in the Guspel, is, at least, partly an act of justice. And if partly an act of justice, not wholly an act of grace. On either hypothesis, the Gospel cannot be true, which every where claims to be wholly of
For the Son of God to become incarnate, and die to get justice done us, as though his father was a tyrant, is inconsistent with every perfection of the Deity. To entertain such a notion, is at least as great a reflection on the HOLY ONE of Israel as atheism itself. To say that God is unrighteous, is as impious as to say there is no God. And a system of religious affections arising from such views, must be, in an eminent degree, an abomination to the Lord.
IV. If the divine law is holy, just, and good, a glorious law, the law which all mankind are naturally under ; then the degree of our sinful depravity, and the degree of our blame-worthiness is to be determined by this rule. And any other judgment of ourselves we come into, not agreeable to this standard, is not according to truth. So near as we approach to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves, and to a conduct exactly answerable, so near we approach to the rule of our duty. But so far as we are destitute of that lively, high, and ravishing sense of the divine glories, which is productive of perfect love, and a perfect obedience, so far are we from what we ought to be. And so far as we are destitute of that love to our neighbour, which will effectually excite us in thought, word, and deed, to conduct toward him, as we would that he should do towards us ; so far we are from the rule. And we are to blame for every defect, in a degree equal to the
greatness of the legal penalty ; that is, for every defect we are so much to blame as to merit eternal misery. And so far as our judgment of our moral character is regulated by this rule, so far our opinion of ourselves is according to truth. This is to think soberly of ourselves, and as we ought to think. To think better of ourselves, is pride. And the degree of our pride and groundless self-conceit, is therefore just equal to our distance from this view of ourselves, and to our distance from an answerable frame of heart toward ourselves, in the sight of God. Just so far as we are disposed to think the law too severe, just so far are we disposed to justify ourselves and condemn God : and just so far are we self-righteous, in the worst sense of the word. On the other hand, so far as the law actually appears to our hearts to be holy, just, good, and glorious, so far we actually justify God, and take all the blame to ourselves, and loath and abhor ourselves in his sight. And just so far, and no further, are we free from what the Scripture means by a self-righteous spirit. Just so far as God and his law rise in their glory in our view, and to our sense and feeling, just so far our character sinks, and is rendered odious, abominable, ill-deserving, hell-deserving, in our eyes: and just so far our need of Christ and free grace coines into view. For the most exalted virtue of the highest saint, weighed in the balance of the divine law, and compared with the demerit of the least sin, is lighter than the least atom of matter, compared with the whole material system. But of this more hereafter.
Those who, in the inmost recess of their hearts, never as yet viewed the divine law, as in itself holy, just, good, and glorious, are to this day under the full power of a self-righteous spirit, and under the reigning dominion of a spirit of enmity against God, and against the glorious Gospel of his Son. And the more religious and devout they are in their own opinion, just so much worse they be; as all their religion and devotion only feeds and confirms the pride of their bearts. For the whole of their good opinion of theinselves as religious men, is nothing but pride and groundless self-conceit in the sight of God; who considers them in the midst of their highest raptures, as being what they are, and as deserving what they do, compared with his holy law, that perfect rule of right. Which perfect rule of right they are so far from any degree of conformity to, that, as yet, in their inmost soul, they never once thought it to be good.-And,
V. If the divine law is holy, just, good, and glorious, true repentance for sin cannot begin to take place in the hearts of sinners, (nor for the same reason can they yield any sincere obedience to it,) till it begin to appear to be such. Sincere obedience to a law we sincerely hate, is a glaring inconsistence. And sincere repentance, when we do not feel uurselves to blame, is an express contradiction. But till the law begins to appear holy, just, good, and glorious, sinners cannot begin to see that that blame lies on them, which the Gospel calls them to acknowledge, and to humble themselves for, when it calls them to repentance. For, as in the Gospel an infinite atonement for sin is provided, the import of which is, that God's law is wholly right, and that we are wholly wrong, and as infinitely to blame, as the law supposes; so, when it calls us to repentance, it cannot be understood in
other sense. Nor is any other kind of repentance the thing the Gospel can possibly mean. The charge exhibited against us in the law, is by the cross of Christ pronounced to be perfectly right, and the law by which we are charged and condemned, is declared to be holy, just, and good, a glorious law, worthy to be
magnified and made honourable : and all the blame is considered as being entirely in us, God and his throne for ever guiltless. Repentance begins in our beginning to view things in this ligbt, with an answerable frame of heart. But to object against the charge as being too severe, and against the law as requiring too much, is a full proof of an impenitent heart. For the import of such an objection is, “the fault alleged is not in me, in manner and form as set forth in the charge. He that thus charges me, therefore, has done me an injury. It is therefore proper for him to repent, and not for me.” And if
, . any sinner, in such a state of mind, should by any delusion, be induced to believe, that God withdraws the charge, and delivers bim from the curse, he might in this belief forgive his Maker, and to his own apprehension be fully reconciled to him. Which reconciliation, if it be called by the name of