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We' proceed to explain and prove the proposition before laid down, viz. That 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. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, &c. And,
1. By sin is meant, any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God." This definition of sin, which is given by the assembly of divines at Westminster, is taken out of those two texts. 1 John iii. 4. Sin is a transgression of the law. Gal. iii. 10. Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things, &c.
2. By the law, is meant, God's holy law, which requires. holiness, and nothing but holiness. For if the law of God required sin, then sin would be not only a transgression of,' but also a conformity unto' the law of God; an absurdity essential to Mr. M.'s scheme. An absurdity his scheme can no sooner get rid of, than the Ethiopian can change his skin.
The holiness required in the divine law is summed up in love. The sum of the ten commandments is, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. and thy neighbour as thyself.' So we were taught by our catechism, when we were children. Nor am I able to express my sentiments with more plainness and precision on the subject, than was done in my former piece. p. 25, 26. The law of Moses, which was the rule of duty in the covenant into which the Israelites entered, required nothing but holiness. That covenant which was externally exhibited, and externally entered into, was so far from being a graceless covenant, that it required nothing but true grace and real holiness; nothing but love, with all its various exercises and fruits, in heart and life; love to God and man; of this we are expressly assured by one who came from God, and infallibly understood the nature of that dispensation. Mat. xxii. 36-40. Master, which is the great commandment of the law? said a Pharisee to our Saviour, referring to the law of Moses. Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. this is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Thus
he had answered the Pharisee's question. But he proceeded to add another sentiment, which overthrew the Pharisaic scheme by the roots. On these two commands hang all the law and the prophets: for if the law obliged the Jew to perform every duty in a holy manner, out of love; and required no other kind of obedience but this; if all the law and the prophets hung on these two commands; so that radically love was all; so that this holy love was the fulfilling of the law, (Rom. xiii. 8. 10.;) then the Pharisees, who were entirely destitute of this, were equally destitute of that kind of religion required in the Mosaic law, and so their scheme was torn up by the roots. It is not only a fundamental maxim in the scripture scheme of religion, that love is the fulfilling of the law; but it is expressly affirmed, that without love the highest gifts, and the greatest attainments, the most expensive deeds, and the most cruel sufferings, are nothing, and will profit nothing. The apostle Paul carries the point so far as to say, Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, und have not charity, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; as destitute of true and real virtue. And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and have all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing. And to carry the point as high as it can possibly be carried, he adds; " and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." For in his view charity, or love, was the sum total of all virtue. Therefore, where there is no love, there is no virtue: not the least degree of conformity to God's nature and law.' For the apostle never dreamt, that that self-love which reigns in the hearts of devils, and of wicked men, was any part of that charity in which he made all true virtue to consist. For then it could not have been said of the vilest sinner, that he hath no charity; whereas the apostle supposes this might be true, of some eminent professors, who even gave all their goods to feed the poor, and their bodies to be burned, that they had no charity. Besides, if that self-love is a part of what the divine law requires, then that which is the principle of all enmity against the Deity, is mat
ter of duty: than which, nothing can be more absurd *. But to proceed:
3. By a sinner, in the proposition, is not meant merely one that has sinned, and does sin every day, for this is true of saints. But by a sinner, is meant, one who is wholly destitute of that holiness which is required in God's law; one who has been born only of the flesh, and so is only flesh : who hath not been born of the spirit, and so hath not the spirit of Christ; whose character is given by the Holy Ghost, in 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 connot please God.” For that the Holy Ghost meant to comprehend all unregenerate sinners, is evident from the next words. ver. 9. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you." So then all those, in whom the spirit of God dwelleth not, are in the flesh; which is the character of every Christless sinner. For if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. So that by a sinner is meant, one who is dead in sin, and an enemy to God. A character, in the sight of God, infinitely criminal; as is evident from this, that his law dooms persons of this character to eternal misery; which is a punishment infinitely dreadful.
4. By an impenitent self-righteous sinner, is meant a sinner who being really of the character just stated, yet instead of confessing and forsaking, is habitually disposed to cover his sins, and justify himself in his wickedness. Even as our first parents covered their nakedness with fig-leaves, and did all they could to hide themselves from God, and said all they could to justify themselves. The last words which Adam spake when called before his Judge, previous to the sentence
z When it is said, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, this neither justifies the selfish spirit of wicked men, nor requires the exercise of a like temper with respect to their neighbour; but only teaches us that as our neighbour's welfare is worth as much as our own, (cæteris paribus,) so it ought to be as dear to us, as our own ought to be. Even as it is among the angels in heaven, and as it must always be in creatures under the perfect government of pure benevolence. For this will be exercised towards beings, in proportion to their true worth. See President Edwards on the nature of true virtue.
passed upon him, were designed to excuse himself, and to lay the blame upon God, who had given him such a tempter; and upon her who had tempted him. The words are very remarkable. The woman, which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And yet Mr. M. represents Adam in these words, as making a full confession of his guilt,' (p.17.) and as being so humbled, as that he was prepared to receive a discovery of redeeming mercy with all his heart.' (p. 47.) It is a dangerous thing to flatter sinners into a good opinion of themselves. Adam first covered his nakedness with fig-leaves, before God came to call him to an account: for he could not endure to see himself. And when God came he fled, and he hid himself from the presence of the Lord amongst the trees of the garden: for he could not endure to be seen by God. For he that doth evil hateth the light. And when he was forced to come forth, and appear before his Judge, he came with guile in his mouth, saying, I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. For it was not the nakedness of his body, but a guilty conscience, which made him hide himself. But he could not bear to own his sin. He dreaded to have it brought into view and when closely examined and pinched to the very heart, so that he could not conceal the fact which he had done; yet then he would cunningly put into his confession, every extenuating circumstance, that as much as possible the blame might be cast off from himself, wherever else it might fall. Ungrateful wretch! to blame his kind Creator, and bountiful benefactor! The woman, which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. Nothing is owned, but merely the external act; the bad intention, the proud, wicked, rebellious heart, is kept out of view; their aspiring to be as God's; their believing the serpent's lies before the God of truth, &c. &c. But here we have a specimen of the true nature of impenitence. This disposition to cover their sin took place in our first parents on their fall, and it has spread through all their guilty race. And mankind have proceeded so far, as even to invent new schemes of religion, not revealed in, but contrary to the holy Scriptures, to cover their sins and to justify themselves in their wickedness. Nor may it be amiss
to mention one or two schemes of this sort, that we may see how the charge exhibited in the divine law against the sinner is evaded, and himself freed from blame, and justified in "his own conscience. Thus,
The charge exhibited in God's holy law against the sinner is, that he sins and deserves eternal damnation, for not continuing in all things written in the book of the law to do them. But the sum of the ten commandments is, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; and thy neighbour as thyself.' The Arminian pleads, and says, no man can be obliged to keep this law. For no man can exercise principles which he has not. For that implies a contradiction *. But we have lost our power of yielding perfect obedience in Adam, We cannot love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. We are not to blame for not doing what we cannot do. And therefore, we are not to blame, nor do we deserve the curse for not continuing in all things written in the book of the law to do them. This law is too severe for a fallen world. Christ has died for us; and so the law is abated. And if we do as well as we can, we shall be saved. For it would be unjust for God to require more of us than we can do, and then damn us for not doing.' Thus they reason, and thus they believe, and thus their sins are covered even from the sight of their own consciences, and they stand justified in themselves.-Again,
The charge exhibited in God's holy law against the sinner is, that he sins, and deserves eternal damnation for not continuing
a By a principle of love is meant, a disposition to love, or a heart to love. But to say, I have no heart to love God, and therefore I am not obliged to love him, is to say, that the more depraved I am the less to blame I am. He who has no heart at all to honour his father and his mother, is, on this hypothesis, blameless, Let the parents be ever so worthy, if the child has no heart to love and honour them, he is free. So a dishonest man, who has no heart to pay his debts, is not obliged; and a covetous niggard, who has no heart to give to the poor, is not bound. For on this hypothesis, our inclination is our rule of duty, and not the law of God. Not what is right and fit, and as such is required by God, the sole Monarch of the universe, is my duty; but only that which suits my own heart. So Pharoah said, Who is the Lord? I know not the Lord, nor will I obey his voice. Pharoah had no principle of love and obedience, and so he was not obliged. So he felt. But the God of the Hebrews imputed it to him for sin.