« PreviousContinue »
tent, but obstinately impenitent, and intolerably haughty. And, in this view, any plain man would tell him, in the most peremptory language, that there was no hope in his case, unless he would humble himself, and come to a deep and sound repentance. Thus John the baptist, Jesus Christ and his apostles, called sinners to repentance; and never once gave impenitent sinners, as such, the least ground to hope for
pardon ; but expressly said, except ye repent ye shall all perish. And to the true penitent, they gave no ground to hope for pardon, on the foot of his own righteousness. For it was a settled point, that without shedding of blood there is no remission. And indeed, that repentance is not genuine, in which we do not, from the heart, give up every self-justifying plea, take all the blame to ourselves, and accept the punishment of our iniquity, with a disposition to look only to free grace through Jesus Christ, for that pardon and salvation which the Gospel offers.
N. B. In this plan of dealing with an awakened sinner, two things are taken for granted, viz. 1. That total depravity and moral agency are consistent. And 2. That repentance unto life is, consistently, both the sinner's duty and God's gift. Ezek. xviii. 31. and chap. xxxvi. 26. Acts ii. 38. Acts iïi. 19. Acts v. 31.
Obj. The run-away son, in the similitude, is a moral agent with respect to all the duties required of him by his father; and so is wholly to blame for his disaffection to his father, and may be considered and treated accordingly: but the unregenerate sinner is not a moral agent, with respect to that love to God which is required in the law, or to that faith and repentance which are called for in the Gospel. That is, he cannot love God, believe, or repent. And therefore he cannot be considered, as being wholly to blame for his disaffection towards God, and for his unbelief and impenitence, or treated accordingly. For 'to love God as exhibited in the law, is the same thing as to love his own misery. And to believe in Christ and repent, before he has had 'a discovery of Christ,' is as impossible as it is to love an object of which we have no idea. To exhort the unregenerate sinner, therefore, as we would exhort such a run-away son, is absurd and inconsistent. p. 42, 43.
Ans. It is true that in thus dealing with the awakened sinner, we consider him, while unregenerate, as a moral agent, possessed of every qualification essential to inoral agency. For we think that unregeneracy consists, not in being destitute of any of those natural faculties which are essential to moral agency, but only in being destitute of a heart to do our duty, and in having an heart opposite thereto. John iii. 6. Rom. viii. 7. But want of inclination, and disinclination to that duty which God requires of us, instead of lessening blame, is that for which we are blame-worthy. Luke xix. 27. We consider the unregenerate sinner, therefore, with respect to love to God and faith in Christ, and with respect to all duties required in law and Gospel, as a moral agent, to whom the commands of the one, and the exhortations of the other may, with propriety, be given; and who is wholly to blame in not obeying the one, and in not complying with the other. And all we shall, at present, say in answer to the objection, is, that if the unregenerate sinner is not a moral agent with respect to the divine law, then he does not deserve the curse of it, for not continuing in all things : which to say, is to contradict Gal. iii. 10. And if he is not a moral agent, with respect to the Gospel, the external revelation of it being enjoyed, then he is not to blame for impenitence and unbelief, nor does he deserve any punishment for these crimes : which to say, is to contradict Mat. xi. 20—24. Luke x. 9-12. John iii. 18, 19. John xvi. 9. In a word, if the unregenerate sinner is not a moral agent with respect to law and Gospel, then the Old and New Testament, which consider and treat him as such, are not from God. To say, therefore, he is not a moral agent, is in effect to give up divine revelation. That is, to say that the unregenerate sinner is not wholly to blame in not loving God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself; and that the unregenerate sinner, who lives under the light of the Gospel, is not wholly to blame for impenitence and unbelief, is to deny the first principles of the Scripture scheme of religion, and in effect, to give up the whole of it. And to give up the bible, rather
than to take that blame to ourselves, which belongs to us, is the very essence of infidelity, and that which constitutes it so great a crime. John iii. 19, 20.-See President Edwards on Freedom of Will, part 3. sect. iv.
Gal. iii. 10. For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse. For it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Impenitent, self-righteous, Christless sinners, are under the curse
of the law of God: but this is inconsistent with their being in covenant with God, in good standing in his sight, by any works which they do, while such.
WE will premise a few things, and then particularly explain and prove the above proposition, and show the inconsistence between the covenant of works, and Mr. M.'s external covenant, considered as conditional.
1. God the Creator and moral Governor of the world, did originally deserve supreme love, and universal, perfect obedience from his creature man. This was implied in that law given to Adam, in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.
2. God is in himself as amiable now as he was before the fall of man; as worthy to be loved, honoured, and obeyed; for he is the same now that he was then. There is no alteration in his nature, and he has done nothing to forfeit his character; if, therefore, before the fall he was worthy of love, Jie is equally worthy since. To say, that there was originally any blemish in the divine character; or to say, that he has brought any blemish upon himself in any instance of his conduct, since the beginning of the world, is to deny his divinity. It is to say, that he is not by nature God; he is not, and never was, an absolutely perfect Being. A denial of the divinity of Christ is the foundation of the Arian heresy. But
we must deny the divinity of God the Father, we must deny the divinity of the Godhead itself, or we can never justify the least degree of disaffection toward the Deity in our hearts : but must take the whole blame to ourselves. For if God is in himself the same infinitely amiable Being he has been from everlasting, and if all his conduct has been like himself, perfect in beauty, without a blemish; if we do not love bim with all our hearts the whole fault must be in ourselves, and not at all in him.-.And on the other hand, if God has in any instance dore amiss, not conducted in that perfect, in that amiable and glorious manner which became him, who is by nature God; it must be owned, that we have just cause to love him less, and in some degree, at least, to dislike him; and our conduct in so doing may be vindicated. Nor can God be just when he speaketh, or clear when he judgeth, if he looks upon us and treats us as being wholly to blame, in not loving him with all our hearts. But if the blame is not wholly in us, it is partly in him. And if there is the least blemish in his character or conduct, then be is not so perfect as he might be ; he is not absolutely perfect; that is, he is not God. Therefore,
3. The denial of the divinity of the one only true and living God, is the only foundation on which, consistently, fallen man can be justified more or less, in not perfectly conforming to the divine law. For if it is granted, that the divine characę ter was originally, absolutely perfect, and that the whole of his conduct towards us, from the beginning of the world, has been absolutely perfect too, then every thing in God, and belonging to God, conspires to render him a perfectly amiable and lovely Being, and to oblige us to love him with all our hearts, and to render us criminal and without excuse in the least neglect or defect. Nor can there be any excuse invented but what must issue in a denial of his divinity. For if the fault is not wholly in us, it is partly in him ; and if partly in him, then he is not absolutely perfect; i. e. he iş not God.–And to say that, by the fall, man ceased to be a moral agent is, by fair construction, subversive of the whole of divine revelation. For,
4. It is a dictate of coinmon sense, that we do not need a surety to pay a debt for us, which we ourselves do not owe. And, therefore, if the divine law was not binding on fallen man, antecedent to the consideration of Christ's undertaking to answer the demands of the law in our stead, then there was no need that he should have undertaken to answer the demands of the law in our stead. For there was no need that our surety should pay a debt for us, that we ourselves did not owe, and could never have owed had he never undertaken in our behalf. An atonement might have been needed for Adam's first offence; but if Adam and all his race, on the apostasy, ceased to be moral agents, and so ceased to be bound by the inoral law to perpetual, perfect obedience, as Mr. M. maintains, (p. 50.) there was no need of an atonement for the many offences which have taken place since the fall: for these many offences are not sins; for where there is nu law, there is no transgression. And sin is not imputed where there is no law. And thus, if we give up the law, we must give up the Gospel too; and to be consistent, become infidels complete. But,
5. If God the Creator, and moral Governor of the world, was originally an absolutely perfect Being : and if he deserved the supreme love and the perfect obedience of his creature man before the fall, and if he deserves the same since the fall; and if we, retaining our original natural faculties, by which before the fall man was a moral agent, remain the same still; then may we consistently believe the bible to be the word of God. For, on these hypotheses, the divine law may be vindicated, which, relative to fallen man, and considered as unregenerate and Christless, says, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to du them. And if this law was worthy of God, then it might be worthy of God to appoint bis Son to be made a curse, to redeem us from the curse of the law. But of this I have spoken particularly heretofore y; and so need * not enlarge. Therefore,
y Essay on the nature and glory of the Gospel. Sect. III. and IV. To which essay I am constrained so frequently to refer the reader, in order to avoid republishing things which I have already written in that book: