Page images
PDF
EPUB

that, it is contrary to the character of God, and contrary, to the character of men; contrary to the law and to the Gospel; contrary to nature and to grace,' to love that character of God which is exhibited in the divine law, holy, just, and good, as it is, against which the carnal mind is at enmity. And this doctrine is so perfectly agreeable to a carnal heart, that if we may have the favour and love of the Almighty on this plan, Mr. M. might well say, p. 43. ' That there is nothing in our fallen circumstances to prevent our returning to the love of God,' and that without any new principle of grace.

Arg. 5. All the holy inhabitants of heaven love that character of Gud, which is exhibited in his holy law, as it is set forth in the clearest and strongest point of light, in the eternal misery of the damned. For they all join to cry, Hallelujah, while their smoke ascendeth for ever and eder. Rev. xix. 146. But if we are not by the Gospel brought to a re.conciliation to the same character, we cannot join in the worship of heaven, nor with any comfort live among them. 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. But if Mr. M.'s scheme is true,

Arg. 6. The breach between God and the sinner may be made up, and a perfect reconciliation take place, without the sinner's ever repenting of that enmity against God which is in his heart as a fallen creature. Yea, it is lawful for the sinner to continue in that enmity. Yea, it is his duty. For Mr. M. says, it is contrary to the law of God' to love that character of the Deity, which is exhibited in the moral law. p. 40, 41, 42. And therefore, when Christ came to call sinners to repentance, he had no intention that they should repent of their enmity against his Father's character exhibited in that holy law, which he loved and obeyed in his life, and honoured in his death; but was free and heartily willing they should go on in their enmity to it to all eternity. For Mr. M. says, (p. 43.) “The love of God which the Gospel teacheth,' is not love to the divine character exhibited in the law, but love of that divine character which is exhibited to us in a Mediator, and no other.' But if God the Father loves that character of himself which is exhibited in his holy law, and if God the Son loves that character, and if all the holy inhabitants of heaven are like God and his Son, and love that character too,

then converts, on Mr. M.'s scheme, when they arrive to heavèn, if they ever should arrive there, could not join with the church above, or make that profession of love to God, which all the rest of the inhabitants do there ; but would need an external graceless covenant in that world, in order to join in full communion there, as much as they do in this world here below, in order to join in full communion here.

But it is time now to attend to Mr. M.'s reasoning; and this is the sum, and this is the whole force of his argument, on the strength of which his whole scheme stands, and which he has repeated over and over again.

Objection. “To love that character of God which is exhibited in his law, is the same thing as to love our own misery. But to love our own misery is to take pleasure in pain ; which is a contradiction, and in its own nature impossible. Contrary to the character of God, and to the character of men ; contrary to the law and to the Gospel ; contrary to nature and to grace." p. 10. 12. 41, 42, 43.

Answer, 1. Our author says, (p. 11.) . That the primary reason why God is to be loved, is the transcendent excellency of the divine perfections f.

But the transcendent excellency of the divine perfections' is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. And therefore, that character of God which is exhibited in the law, is as

transcendantly excellent' since, as it was before the fall. And therefore this reason of love remains in FULL FORCE to us in our guilty state.

f. If all the ground and reason there is for fallen man to exercise dependence ön God,' i. e. for eternal life, ariseth from the covenant of grace, 'as Mr. M. 'says, (p. 12.) yet all the ground and reason that mankind have to love God does not arise from the covenant of grace.' For God was in himself infinitely worthy of our love, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, otherwise the gift of Christ to answer the demands of the law, in our room, had been 'needless ; for there was 'no need our surety should ever pay a debt for us which we ourselves never owed. And it was as 'repugnant to the law, and as much

presumption,' to expect eternal life before the fall, as since, without perfect obedience, on the foot of law. This kind of dependence was never required by the law of Adam, or of any other nian. It was no more his duty before the fall than it was afterwards.

6

Ans. 2. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, and all the holy inhabitants of heaven, love that character of God which is exhibited in his law; and yet they du not love misery itself, or take any pleasure in the pains of the damned, considered merely as pain. If God did take pleasure in the pains of the damned, considered merely as pain; if this were the character which he exhibits of himself in his law; then to love this character would be the same thing as to love misery. So that this is implicitly, and by fair construction, imputed to the Father of the universe, when it is said, that to love that character of God which is exhibited in the divine law, is the same thing as to love our own misery.' But to say, that God and the holy inbabitants of heaven take pleasure in the pains of the damned, considered merely as pain, is to impute to them a spirit of disinterested malice.

But to justify our enmity against God by such an imputation, is exceeding impious. But on the other hand, if God may love that character of himself which is exhibited in his law, and yet not love misery itself; then, were we regenerate, were we made partakers of the divine nature, we might be like God; and be affected as the holy inliabitants of heaven are ; and so might love that character of God which is exbibited in the divine law, and not love misery in ourselves, or in any other beings.

A wise and good father, when he inflicts just punishment on a haughty, stubborn child, for some heinous crime, approves and loves his own conduct, and the character which he exhibits therein ; but yet he does not love his child's misery, itself, or take pleasure in his pain, as such, or desire his child to take pleasure in it. And if the proud, haughty, stubborn, impenitent child should say, To love a whipping father is the same thing as to love to be whipped ; but to love to be whipped is to love misery; but to love misery is a contradiction, and in its own nature impossible, and contrary to the law of God, wbich requires me to love myself;' every obedient child in the family would be able to see the fallacy of the argument. And love to their father's honour, would make them love him for vindicating his honour in the just punishment of such a son. Nor is there a father on earth, hearing such language as this from a child, but that would think it proper and fit that his uncircumcised heart should be so humbled as to accept the punishment of his iniquity before he pardoned him. Nor would he forgive him, until he should feel and say, 'I deserve to be whipped. It is good enough for me. It becomes my father to do it. Nor is it a blemish, but a beauty in his character, to be disposed to chastise such a haughty wretch as I am.' For the father approves of his own disposition to punish bis child. He knows that it becomes bim. And until his child knows it too, he cannot but disapprove of him, as a stubborn, impenitent child: And yet no father ever desired his child to love misery. Nay, on the contrary, did the child love to be whipped, did whipping give the child pleasure, it would cease to be of the nature of a punishment. It would gratify the child, and frustrate the father. To say in this case, that 'to love a whipping father is the same thing as to love to be whipped,' is to say, that the father whips the child merely for the pleasure of whipping it, and takes delight in its misery, for itself: and so is guilty of disinterested malice, which no man ever was guilty of, and which to charge on the Deity is the highest blasphemy. For if the father loves his own character, and delights in his own conduct toward his child, without loving the child's misery itself; then nothing bin, ders, but that the child might love his father's character and conduct too, without loving its own misery. For a more particular answer to this objection, see Essay on the nature and glory of the Gospel.

SECTION VIII.

Gen. i. 27. So God created man in his own image, in the

image of God created he him.

Question. How was it possible for Adam before the fall, to love that character of God which was exhibited to him in the law, consistently with the love of his own happiness ?

THÉ difficulty which attends this question may come into view, if we consider,

1. That a state of eternal misery is infinitely worse than not to be.

Existence itself is desirable to mere nature, only as it implies a capacity for the enjoyment of happiness. Nature dreads annihilation, as thereby all happiness is lost for ever.

But it is better to be without happiness, than it is to be not only without happiness, but miserable. Pure misery is worse than non-existence. Hence abandoned guilty sinners often wish for annihilation. And had Adam for the first-transgression been threatened with annihilation, it might have been thought of with less horror and dread. But misery is a dreadful thing. And eternal misery is infinitely dreadful, infinitely worse than not to be. How therefore could Adam think of that dreadful word death, as implying eternal misery, and yet love that Being who had threatened this for the first transgression ? Yea, and love that very character exhibited in the threatening itself? How could love to this character consist with his love to his own happiness ? --- It is true, God had been kind to him, in giving him a happy existence, surrounded with many delights: but this happiness and these delights to be enjoyed for thousands of ages, were lighter than a feather, compared with eternal misery.--And it is true, he might remain happy for ever, in case of perfect obedience. And this was a glorious prospect.—But what if he sinned? What then ? DEATH! ETERNAL DEATH! never ending woes were threatened, as his just desert. But why eternal death for one offence? Where was the wisdom,

« PreviousContinue »