« PreviousContinue »
making herself common to all comers, until, being overtakes with extreme poverty, she is reduced to great distress; and then, instead of returning to her husband and humbling herself before him, as in duty she is bound, should she apply to her neighbours for relief, and put on a bold face, and promise, by the assistance of her husband' to make good pay, would they regard her words ? would they trust her on his account? Rather, would they not be filled with indignation at her impudence, and be ready to say, Woman, first of all make up matters with your husband, before you presume fo be trusted on his account; for what warrant have
in your present circumstances, to promise to make good pay, by his assistance, to which you have no title, and to which you know you have no title, and to which the public kpowsyou have no title, by the advertisement in the public papers ? No, no, thou wicked woman, thy word is not to be taken. Thou art not worth a penny in the world. The man whom thou callest thy husband, thou hast run away from, and he declares that he will bold himself unobliged to pay any of thy debts, or to grant thee the least 'assistance." She cries, she laments bitterly, she says,— I desire to love him, I wish I could love him, I long to love him, I try to love him, but I cannot. I do all I can to love him, but it is above my pow
But this I can say, that I am willing to do my utmost, and I am come to a fixed resolution to try every day to love hiin, and I am willing to bind myself by the most solemn covenant to do so. And inore than this, he cannot reasonably require at my hands, in my present circumstances.' Her husband happens to stand at the door, and hears all the talk, and goes off in high indignation, saying to himself, What! can she find a heart to love her gallants, but no heart to love me! am I so vile in her eyes! is it such an impossible task to love such an one as I am ! is this more than she can do! is this more than I can justly require at her hands! am I to be pacified with her hypocritical tears, and deceitful vows ! and an unreasonable man to demand more at present ! shall other men thus have her whole beart, and shall I bear this contempt at her hands ! far be this from me.
I will assert my proper dignity ; that woman shall no longer be call
ed my wife; I will get a bill ; I will put her away for ever.' Common sense would approve and justify his conduct.
Thus the most high God, whose character is perfect in beauty, without a blemish, might justly resolve, with respect to every impenitent, self-righteous, self-justifying sinner. And he might justly strike them dead, and send them to hell, in a moment. For every plea they make to justify themselves, in not loving God, casts the blame on bim; even every argument they use for their justification, is to his condemnation. For if the fault is not in them, it is in him. If they are not to blame for not loving him, it is because he is not worthy of their love. For if God is in himself, and in all his conduct, absolutely perfect, even perfect in beauty, without a blemish, then we must be inexcusable, and wholly criminal in not loving him with all our hearts. And if there is the least blemish in the divine character, or in any part of his conduct, then he is not an absolutely perfect Being. That is, in other words, he is not God. The divinity of the only true and living God, is therefore denied in every self-justify, ing plea. Which is a crime aggravated beyond expression. A sinner, therefore, in such a temper, is an enemy to the true God, and justifies himself in it, and all his pretences to love and obedience are hypocritical; and he ought to be told it in the plainest manner. But to flatter sinners along in their self-justifying, God-condemning disposition, how much soever it may please them at present, directly tends to their eternal rain.---But thus much is certain at least, that they have no title to any divine assistance ;' and so have no warrant to make promises as though they had. Nor is their promise, in this view of it, of any worth, or at all to be trusted.
The professed design of Mr. M.'s first book was, as he declares, (p. 58.) to prove that there is an external covenant between God and his visible church, as such, distinct from the covenant of grace. And that those who are in it, (p. 59.) ' have a promise of the means of, and the strivings of God's holy Spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation. And agreeably hereunto, he has in this second book endeavoured to persuade us, that impenitent, self-righteous,
Christless sinners, (p. 65, 66.) may warrantably,' while such, and as such,' bind themselves, in covenant' by divine assistance to obey the whole will of God. Whether what has been offered in the foregoing section, is sufficient to prove that this external covenant is not from heaven, but of men, is submitted to the consideration of every judicious reader.And we are now at liberty more particularly to examine the new scheme of religion, wbich he has advanced in order to support his external covenant, which is to be the principal business of most of the following sections.
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.
Quest. I. Are we, as fallen creatures, at enmity against God, merely as conceiving God to be our enemy
Quest. II. Are we enemies unly to false and mistaken ideas of God? Or,
Quest. III. Is the carnal mind enmity against God's true and real character, and that notwithstanding the revelation which God has made of his readiness to be revealed to us, if we repent and return to him through Jesus Christ? If so,
Quiest. IV. What contrariety is there between the carnal mind and God's true and real character?
ACCORDING to our author, (p. 50) 'Adam, after the fall, before the revelation of a Mediator,' was not bound by the divine law to love God. T'he divine law bound him to 'punishment' for what was past; but its binding authority respected not his obedience,' for the time to come. For Adam by the fall ceased to be a moral agent. For it now became inconsistent with a principle essential to moral agency, to love God. For, (p. 5.)
a principle of self-love is essential to us as moral agents.'— But, (p. 10.) 'to delight in God under those circumstances, was the same thing as to delight in his own misery ;' which is inconsistent with that self-love which is essential to moral agency. Therefore, (p. 10.) 'Adam by becoming guilty, was totally depraved;' being totally deprived of his moral agency, and wholly incapacitated for inoral conduct. His depravity, however, was not of a criminal nature. For, (p. 12.)'this inconsistency of love to God, with the natural principle of self-love, was the true reason, and the only reason, why Adam could not love God after the fall.' For, (p. 44.) could be have seen, after he had sinned, that he had still the same, or as much ground of confidence toward God as he had before, he would have continued still to exercise the same delight in the divine perfections, as he had done before.' So that he was as well disposed to love God after the fall as he was before, had he been in as good external ciicumstances. His different affections were entirely owing to his different external circumstances. For God was his friend before the fall. But now, (p. 9.) ' in every view it must appear to him, that God could deal no otherwise with him, but to execute the curse, unless he should act contrary to his own perfections. And therefore, as soon as God's readiness to forgive sin was mani. fested, there was nothing in his heart to prevent his loving God as much as ever. And so it is with us, (p. 44.) “There is all the reason why our hearts should return to the love of God, and confidence in him through Christ, as why Adam should love God in his primitive state. There is notbing in our fallen circumstances to prevent it.” (p. 47, 48.) Without any new principle of grace. For this being the true state of things, (p. 43.) 'regeneration may be wrought by light.' For as soon as we believe God's readiness to be reconciled to us, we shall love him of course. But before faith and regeneration, we are in the same state of total depravity that Adam was before the revelation of a Mediator. (p. 18.) • Mankind at this day, antecedent to their exercising faith in Christ, are in much the same condition as Adam was after he had sinned.? Particularly, (p. 20.)' we are under the same inability of loving God that Adam was.' And therefore, as it was not Adam's duty to love God after the fall; so the unregenerate are not bound in duty to love that character of God which was exhibited in the moral law given to Adam ; for to do só is the same thing as to love their own misery. Which to do is inconsistent with moral agency, and 'contrary to the law of God;' which requires us to love ourselves. (p. 41, 42, 43.) And the Gospel does not require us to love that character of God which is exhibited in the moral law. (p. 43.) For the love of God which the Gospel teacbeth, is love of that divine character which is exhibited to us in a Mediator, and no other.' But this character the unbeliever hath no idea of, and so cannot love it. (p. 43.) •To suppose that the soul sees, and loves this character, before a believing view of Christ takes place in the heart, is to suppose the soul to see and not to see at the same time. And as we are not moral agents with respect to law or Gospel, while unregenerate and unenlightened, nor bound in duty at present to love God, believe, or repent; so the external covenant, which requires unregenerate endeavours, and promises the strivings of the Holy Spirit to render external means effectual to salvation, comes in here to our relief. And our 'total depravity,' and our' enmity against God,' not being of a criminal nature, are no bar in the way of our admission to sealing ordinances. And therefore, although a man who steals but a shilling, and justifies himself in it, must be debarred; yet he who is totally depraved, and an enemy to God, and justifies himself in it, may be admitted. This is the sum of Mr. M.'s scheme.Now that we, while unregenerate, are moral agents, has been already proved. And the nature of that enmity against God, which is in the carnal mind, is to be considered in this section, which may be done in answer to the questions proposed; and then the way will be prepared to consider the nature of that reconciliation to God, to which the Gospel calls us, which is to be the subject of the next section. Now, therefore, let us attend to the questions.
Question I. Are we, as fallen creatures, enemics to God, merely as conceiving God to be our enemy ?
Answer. As likeliness of nature lays the foundation for liking ; so contrariety of nature is the original ground of dislike; or that in which enmity radically consists. And there
Ć There are some sinners who do not know enough about God, sensible to love