« VorigeDoorgaan »
things, who had this external call, made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise ; others mocked, and others were enraged. Thus many were called who did not coine ; for their eyes were blind that they could not see, and their ears were heavy that they could not hear. But as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. The elect obtained, and the rest were blinded; for whom he did predestinate, them he also called. And these all with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, were changed into the same image, from glory to glory.
Whom he did predestinate, them also he called. He, that is, God. God himself called them; as it is written, “ They shall be all taught of God." God himself revealed these things to them, (Matt. xi. 25;) opened the whole gospel way of life, in its divine glory, to their souls; and so gave them to see, that it was in truth, the word of God ; in which view, the call of the gospel to repent and be converted, to turn to God through Jesus Christ, could not fail to be effectual. They beheld the gospel in its glory; they believed it to be true; every answerable affection was begotten in their hearts; they exercised repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ; they loved the gospel; they loved the brethren; they loved all mankind; they were willing to part with all things, and even joyfully to lay down their lives for the truth. And whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. For nothing could ever separate them from the love of God, neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword ; nay, in all these things they were more than conquerors, through Him who loved them. For the same mind was in them that was in Christ Jesus, and which carried him through all the labors of his life, and sufferings of his death ; for the spirit of Christ dwelt in them, and they were able to do all things through Christ strengthening them; and thus, this was the true nature of Christ's holy religion in ancient times, in the apostolic age.
And thus we have considered the nature and glory of the
sinners that there is forgiveness with God for impenitent sinners, while such; a passive belief of which, he says, begets hope that I am pardoned; and this hope begets love to this doctrine of forgiveness, which thus relieves me; in which he says all godliness consists. And thus, as no act, exercise, or exertion of the human mind, is requisite in order to pardon, on his scheme, so the sinner is to be called to no act, exercise, or exertion whatsoever. And therefore he entirely excludes the call of the gospel. And as the external call of the gospel is left out of his scheme, so also is the internal call. And a passive belief that there is for. giveness with God for impenitent sinners, and a hope that I am forgiven, supply the place of that effectual calling which was essential to the apostolic scheme. See his Letters on Theron, and to Mr. Pike.
gospel, the nature and consequences of spiritual blindness, and the nature and effects of divine illumination, as was proposed ; and nothing now remains, but, in as few words as possible, to point out the fundamental principles on which all the reasonings in this Essay are built, and to show that we must come into this system of sentiments, or, turn infidels, or, with heretics of old, be inconsistent, and so self-condemned. And this shall be attempted in the Conclusion.
THERE IS NO CONSISTENT MEDIUM BETWEEN ANCIENT APOSTOLIC
CHRISTIANITY AND INFIDELITY.
If the judicious, candid reader will now stop, look back, and review, from beginning to end, the foregoing Essay, he will find the whole system of sentiments contained in it all naturally founded in, and resulting from, these three propositions :
Proposition I. The great God, the Creator, Preserver, Lord, and Governor of the world, is an absolutely perfect, an infinitely glorious and amiable being, the supreme good, infinitely worthy of supreme love, and honor, and universal obedience, from his creature man.
Prop. II. The divine law, which requires this of us, on pain of eternal death, is holy, just, and good, a glorious law, worthy to be magnified and kept in honor in God's government.
Prop. III. The design of the mediatorial. office and work of the Son of God incarnate, was to do honor to the divine law, and thereby open a way in which God might call, and sinners might come to him, and be received to favor, and entitled to eternal life, consistent with the honor of the divine government.
If these three propositions are true, then that whole scheme of sentiments which necessarily results from them must be equally true. To grant the propositions, and to deny their necessary consequences, is to be inconsistent. And he who denies the first proposition, that is, the existence of an absolutely perfect being, is an atheist; and to deny the second or the third, is to give up the Bible and be an infidel. Again, he who owns the first must grant the second, or be inconsistent; for, if God is such a being as the first asserts, the divine law
must be what the second affirms; and if the first and second are true, no man can doubt of the third.
But to reduce all to one point, and to be a little more particular: Christ was made a curse, to redeem us from the curse of the law ; even from the curse of that law which curses every one that continueth not in all things. To deny that this law, from the curse of which Christ redeems us, requires perfect obedience, is expressly to contradict the word of God, which declares, that it requires us to continue in all things. To deny that this law comprises eternal ruin in its curse, is again expressly to contradict the word of God, which declares, that Christ delivers his people from the wrath to come ; and over and over again declares, that the wrath to come will be everlasting, where the worm shall never die, and the fire never be quenched. It therefore appears to be a fact, as certain as that the New Testament is true, that the Son of God incarnate died on the cross, to bear the curse of that law which required perfect obedience of us, on pain of eternal misery. Now, that the Son of God, by his Father's appointment, should leave the world of glory, become incarnate, appear, and stand, and die in our room, to bear the curse which was by law due to us, is a fact the most wonderful and astonishing that ever reached human ears. And pray, what end had God the Father, or God the Son, in this infinitely surprising affair?
To say that God the Father gave his only-begotten and wellbeloved Son to die, absolutely for no end at all, when sinners might have been saved in every respect as well without, is to say that Christ crucified is not the wisdom of God. And the doctrine of the cross must be owned to be, what its ancient adversaries affirmed, foolishness; which is to say, it is not from God.
If the Son of God incarnate was made a curse to redeem us from the curse of the law for some end, it must have been either, first, because the law was bad, was too severe; and so he died to deliver us from the too great rigor and severity of the law, and to put us under a more equitable constitution ; or, second, he died because the law was good, to do it honor, to declare God's righteousness, that he might be just, and yet the justifier of the believer. A third end, distinct from these two, cannot be mentioned.
If the Son of God left his Father's bosom, became incarnate, and died on the cross, because the law was bad, was too severe, etc., then it will follow, first, that in fact, the law was bad, and God the Father knew it, and God the Son knew it; second it had therefore been inconsistent with every perfection
of the divine nature to have held mankind bound by this law if Christ had never died; and therefore, thirdly, there was evi dently no need of his death in the case ; unless we will say (Heaven forbid the blasphemy,) that God the Father was such a tyrant, that he could not do us justice, unless moved thereto by the blood of his own Son. To say which, is worse than downright infidelity.
If the Son of God left his Father's bosom, became incarnate, and died on the cross, because the law was good, to do it honor, etc., then also it will follow, 1st. That the law was in fact good, and worthy of all this honor; and God the Father knew it, and God the Son knew it; yea, and every child of Adam knows it, whose eyes are opened to see it as it is. 2d. And therefore all our ill thoughts of the divine law are groundless, yea, infinitely criminal. They are of the nature of blasphemy against God the Father and God the Son. And he who does not look upon this law as glorious, so infinitely honored by the Father and the Son, may justly be reputed an enemy to the Father and the Son, and in a peculiar manner an enemy to the cross of Christ. 3d. The divine glory of the atonement, primarily consists in its doing infinite honor to this glorious law, thereby asserting the rights of the Godhead, and condemning the sin of an apostate world. 4th. He, therefore, who is blind to the beauty of the divine nature, the excellency of the divine law, and the great evil of sin, must of necessity be blind to the glory of the atonement. 5th. He who does not view the divine law as glorious, worthy to be magnified and made honorable, can see no reason why it was honored on the cross of Christ; and so can see no wisdom, nor any other divine perfection, in the death of an incarnate God. 6th. Until the divine perfections exhibited to view on the cross, are seen, and seen in their glory, the gospel will not be believed with all the heart, nor will those holy affections which constitute the Christiau character be produced by it. And if our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost. 7th. It must be entirely owing to a supernatural, divine influence, that a mind alienated from, and at enmity against God's character and law, becomes struck with the beauty, and charmed with the glory, of each, as honored with the highest honors on the cross of Christ ; and therefore, “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
These, together with that whole system of sentiments, in close connection with these, contained in the preceding Essay, will follow, if Christ died because the law was good, to do it honor. To grant that Christ died for this end, and to deny the
consequences, is to be inconsistent. To deny that Christ died for this end, inevitably leads to infidelity. To say that Christ did not die because the law was good, to do it honor, is to say, there was no good reason for his death. To say he died because the law was bad, to get it repealed, is to offer a reason worse than none. And to say either, is to say that Christianity is not from God.
It remains, therefore, that there is no consistent medium between the ancient apostolic Christianity and downright infidelity. And accordingly, in strict truth, in the sight of God, who searcheth the heart, there are but two sorts of men in Christendom; and at the day of judgment it will appear so to all the world. Now, we are divided into a great variety of sects and parties; but then of all these sects and parties, there will appear to be but two sorts of men, believers and unbelievers. And then that most remarkable saying of Jesus Christ will take effect, and be fulfilled : “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
No man on earth, or angel in heaven, has a right to vary or alter the true gospel of Jesus Christ, to accommodate it to the notions of the learned, or to the experiences of the unlearned. The Spirit of inspiration, which is in effect the same as if God himself had spoken with an audible voice from heaven, St. Paul, with the utmost solemnity, once and again, declared, as it were to the whole Christian world in a body, that if any man or angel shall preach any other gospel, “ let him be accursed.” And all who, with St. Paul, sincerely love the gospel of Christ, as it is, must therefore stand ready from the heart to say, Amen. For, as the gospel is one harmonious, connected whole, so he who alters it in any single point, to be consistent, must alter the whole; that is, must give up that whole system of truths, and substitute in its room a whole system of lies, a system subversive of, and directly contrary to, the whole gospel of Christ. For instance, he who denies the character of the Father, must deny the character and office of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. For if the Father is not in himself infinitely worthy of our supreme love, previous to the consideration of our being pardoned, the divine law, which requires this, previous to that consideration, was not good; the death of Christ then, to do it honor, was needless; and the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit to bring us to view God in this light, there was no occasion for; if there is no amiableness in the divine nature previous to the consideration of his being my reconciled friend. And if my want of love,