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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 : to say which, 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 : to say which, is to contradict Matt. xi. 20— 24. Luke x. 3—12. John iii. 18, 19; 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, there
. fore, 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 neighbor 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 lis, 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 inconsistency 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, honored, 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, he 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 him 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 done 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 he 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 character 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; that is, he is 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.
4. It is a dictate of common sense, that we do not need a surety to pay a debt for us,
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 our. selves 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 moral law to perpetual perfect obedience, as Mr. M. maintains, 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 no 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 do them.” And if this law was worthy of God, then it might be worthy of God to appoint his Son to be made a curse, to redeem us from the curse of the law. But of this I have spoken particularly heretofore; * and so need not enlarge.
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.
We proceed to explain and prove the proposition before laid down, namely, - 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, etc.
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 the transgression of the law; (Gal. iii. 10,) “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things," etc.
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, etc., and thy neighbor 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. “ 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. Master, which is the great commandment of the law ? ' said a Pharisee to our Savior, referring to the law of Moses. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, etc., this is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor 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, and have not charity, I am as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal ; ' as destitute of true and real virtue. though I have the gift of prophecy, 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 matter of duty; than which nothing can be more absurd.*
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
• When it is said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” this neither justifies the selfish spirit of wicked men, nor requires the exercise of a like temper with respect to their neighbor ; but only teaches us that as our neighbor'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.