« AnteriorContinuar »
excellency of the divine nature, cannot render God an amiable object to us, unless we know that he loves us, and is our reconciled Father and Friend*.
Paul. The first question is not, whether unregenerate sinpers, while dead in sin, and enemies to God, do actually love God: but whether they ought not to love him. Whether the perfection, goodness, and excellency of the divine nature is not a proper inducement, which renders it reasonable and fit: yea, which obliges; nay, infinitely obliges them to love God. I think you must grant this; for how else can the law be holy, just, and good ?
Ther. If I should grant that the perfection, goodness, and excellency of the divine nature, does render it fit and reasonable that we should love God with all our hearts; yet it is impossible we should love him, except first we know he loves ust.
Paul. If God is really a being infinitely amiable in himself, and if it is fit and reasonable we should love him for the
perfection, goodness, and excellency of his nature, then there is, yea, there can be no difficulty in the way of the practice of this duty, but what lies in the badness of our hearts; and so, what we are to blame for. And therefore, were our hearts right, we should love him for his own lovelinesst, and feel disposed to glorify God, as GOD; as the very heathen ought to do, who never heard of his designs of mercy by Jesus Christ. Nay, all the heathen world are at this day, and ever have been, entirely without excuse, in not being thus affected towards the infinitely glorious God that made them. Yea, they are for this infinitely to blame, so as to deserve eternal wrath. And this is St. Paul's doctrine, Rom. i. 18.
* M. p. 25.
† M. p. iv. 25. # If our hearts were right, i. e. were as they ought to be, were as the law requires them to be, we should love God for his own loveliness. But in regeneration our hearts begin to be right; therefore, then, even at that instant, we begin to love God for his own loveliness. For at that very instant when the vail is taken from our hearts, zve all with open face, behold as in a glass, the glory of the Lord. 2 Cor. iii. 18. Even the law, as a ministration of death and condemnation, appears glorious. ver. 7. 9. But every man is to blame, that his heart is not right. Theron pleads impossibility. St. Paul, however, declares this kind of impossibility to be no excuse. Rom. i. 20, 21.
gl. Nav, this doctrine is fundamental to St. Paul's whole scheme of religion. Overthrow this, and you will overthrow his whole scheme ; for it is in this view that he pronounces Jew and Gentile, even the whole world, to stand guilty before Gied, with their mouths stopped, without one excuse to make for themselves, though doomed to eternal destruction for not loving God with all their hearts. And so holy, just, and good, does he esteem this law to be, as that it was needful the Son of God should be set forth to be a propitiation, to declare God's righteousness, that he might be just, and not go counter to all good rules of government in pardoning and saving true penitents. Rom. iii
. 9. 26. Ther
. The heathen were liable to destruction for their idolatries, and gross immoralities. Puul
. Yes, and also for their not glorifying God as God. The wrath of God, says the apostle, is revealed from heaven
ALL ungodliness : against the least degree of disre
towards the infinitely glorious Majesty of heaven. The least defect of love towards God, exposes them to eternal destruction. This was the apostle's constant doctrine, and a chief foundation of his whole scheme of principles. Gal. ii. 10. Rom. i. 18. and iji. 20.
Ther. But the Gentiles had not so much as heard of the
of salvation by Christ; and must therefore, if their consciences were awakened, be in fearful expectation of eternal wrath: " But surely it must be absolutely impossible we should love God, if we view him, as disposed to punish us in hell for ever. Yea, “if I look on God as contrary to me, as one that hates me and will damn me, my own innate self-love will breed hatred and heart-risings against him in spite of my
Paul. That is, the divine law is so intolerably cruel, that unless it is entirely set aside as to us, we can never be pacified towards our Maker. We
We are in arms, in open rebellion, , so virulent that we are full of“ hatred and heart-risings," in spite of all restraints. And we proclaim in the sight of heaven, our cause is so just, that we can ever lay down our
* M. p 140.
arms, fall at the foot of our sovereign and justify his law; nay, we can never have one good thought of him, till first he set aside his law, remove the curse, and grant us heaven upon our demands. Upon this condition we will forgive our lawgiver for what is past, and be at peace for the future. On this footing we will lay down our arms, and be reconciled. Our first work, therefore, is to believe that God doth give Christ and his salvation to us, and is become our reconciled Father and Friend. And this belief is to lay the foundation of all our religion. But, O my dear Theron, such a faith, growing up out of such as unhumbled, unsubdued heart as this, and a religion arising from such a root, is all delusion, if there be any such thing in nature as delusion*.
Besides, tell me, my Theron, do you verily believe, that God's disposition to punish sin, according to his holy law, is hateful disposition? And do you verily believe, that God is an odious Being on this account? Or do you allow yourself to hate God, for that for which he appears infinitely amiable in the eyes of all the heavenly world! Rev. xix. 1. 6. Or is your heart a carnal, unregenerate heart, under the full power of enmity against God and his law ? Rom. viii. 7. It is certain, what you say can never be justified. For if we have given God just cause to hate and punish us, by our wickedness, he is not the less lovely for being disposed to do so, except he is the less lovely for being holy and just; that is, the less lovely for that in which his loveliness in a great measure consists.
You acknowledge the law is holy, just, and good, even as to the heathen world, who never heard of a Saviour. Therefore, it is not the grace of the gospel that makes the law good. The law is older than the gospel, and was holy, just, and good, before the gospel had a being. Yea, the law had been for ever good, if Christ had never died. We were not the injured, abused party : Christ did not die to make satisfaction to us, pacify our angry minds, and allay our “ ha
* How righteous is it, in the holy sovereign of the world, to suffer such a proud, self-righteous sinner, so ready to quarrel for a pardon, to be deluded with a false persuasion that he is pardoned! As he takes satan's side against God and bis law; so God may justly leave him in satan's power. 2 Thess. ü, 10, 11, 12.
in the pe
“ most hoj subjects, w plead his that the with
your cerning G rock, his a God of tri
A. Wh should be
B. A fi ready give sermons 01 still more to which
Therefore, you and I must approve the law as holy, just and good, glorious and amiable, with application to ourselves, before we can, with all our hearts, believe the Gospel to be
And therefore, not a belief of God's love to us, but & view of the infinite loveliness of the divine nature, must reconcile us to the divine law. Nor does this reasoning attempt to prove an impossibility ; but rather it demonstrates the absolute necessity of regeneration, as antecedent to the first act of faith ; a doctrine your author does not believe*. And yet a doctrine plainly taught in Scripture. John i. 12, 19.
Ther. Whatever we may do in speculations, when at ease ; it is impossible, under a lively sense of the dreadfulness of eternal damnation, that we should, with application to ourselves, approve in our very hearts, the law in all its rigour, as holy, just, and good, as being really amiable and glorious in itself, till we know we are delivered from its curse.
Paul. If the the law, in all its rigour, is not holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable, before we are delivered from its curse, it is a pity the beloved Son of God was obliged to die to answer its demands. It is a pity that a bad, a hateful law, should be so infinitely honoured in the sight of the whole intelligent system. It is a pity God ever made it; a greater pity he suffered it to stand unrepealed. But the greatest
interposition and death of Christ, was a cruel law, like that which the Egyptian task-masters urged, it ought to have been repealed. It was a dishonour to God to make it, and a greater dishonour still to appoint his Son to answer its demauds. Nor is a cruel law fit to be a schoolmaster in God's world, or suited to teach us any thing, but to have hard thoughts of God. And yet Aspasio goes on to say, (p. 21.) “ Rather than the divine law should lose its honours, Sodom and Gomorrah were laid in ashes; the ancient world was destroyed with a deluge ; the present frame of nature destined to the flames, and all its unholy inhabitants must be doomed to hell. Nay, rather than that the least tittle should pass unaccomplished, its curse has been executed on God's own Son, and all its injunctions have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.” Very true, but does not all this demonstrate, that the law was not too severe and strict, but perfectly holy, just, and good? A glorious law. 2 Cor. iži. 7. And that previous to the consideration of the grace of the Gospel. Had the law been in itself bad, the death of Christ could not have made it good. Therefore, it was not “God's design,“ that the law should be our schoolmaster, that made the law good : but it was in itself holy, just, and good; and, therefore, it was fit to be our schoolmaster.
M. p. 135.