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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 power. 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 him, and I am willing to bind myself by the most solemn covenant to do so ; and more 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 a 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 heart, 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 called my wife; I will get a bill; I will put her away forever.” 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 him; 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 blernish 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-justifying 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 ruin. 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.
To conclude: The professed design of Mr. M.'s first book was, as he declares, "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 have a promise of the means of, and the strivings of God's Holy Spirit, in order to render them effectual for salvation." bly hereunto, he has in this second book endeavored to persuade us, that impenitent, self-righteous, Christless sinners may warrantably, “while such, and
" 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, which 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.
THE NATURE OF THE ENMITY OF THE CARNAL MIND
QUESTION I. Are we, as fallen creatures, at enmity against God, merely as conceiving God to be our enemy? Or,
Quest. II. Are we enemies only 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,
Quest. IV. What contrariety is there between the carnal mind and God's true and real character ?
According to our author, "Adam, after the fall, before the revelation of a Mediator," was not bound by the divine law
to love God. The 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 "a principle of self-love is essential to us as moral agents ;" but “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 “ Adam, by becoming guilty, was totally depraved ; " being totally deprived of his moral agency, and wholly incapacitated for moral conduct. His depravity, however, was not of a criminal nature ; for “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 "could he 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 circumstances. His different affections were entirely owing to his different external circumstances ; for God was his friend before the fall. But now,“ 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 manifested, there was nothing in his heart to prevent his loving God as much as ever. And so it is with us.
" 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 nothing in our fallen circumstances to prevent it;” without any new principle of grace ; for this being the true state of things, "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. “ Maukind at this day, antecedent to their exercising faith in Christ, are in much the same condition as Adam was after he had sinned ;” particularly, “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 so is the same thing as to love their own misery ; to do which is inconsistent with moral agency, and “contrary to the law of God," which requires us to love ourselves. And the gospel does not require us to love that character of God which is exhibited in the moral law; “for the love of God which the gospel teacheth, 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.
“ 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 endeavors, 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 already been 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, enemies 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 therefore, our enmity
There are some sinners who do not know enough about God sensibly to love him or hate him, or to have any exercise of heart relative to him. God is not in all their thoughts. They never hated him in their lives, they will tell you; nor did they ever feel any love to him, or delight in him. The divine character, as yet, never came near enough to their view to give them pleasure or pain. The fool saith in his heart, There is no God. They wonder, therefore, what can be meant by the apostle's words, “ The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Surely, say they, he does not mean that every natural man hates God, for I never hated him in my life. For let our sinful nature be ever so contrary to God's holy nature, yet the contrariety will not be felt until the true and real character of the Holy One of Israel begins to come into clear view. “For without the law sin was dead; but when the commandment came, sin revived." This contrariety which is between our sinful nature and God's holy nature, is the thing chiefly
to God does not arise merely from conceiving God to be our enemy. Here let these things be considered :
1. If our enmity against God arises merely from conceiving him to be our enemy; if we have no contrariety of heart to God but what arises merely from conceiving that he dislikes us; then God's dislike to us must have taken place while we were perfectly holy; or our belief that God is our enemy, is a groundless sentiment, originally injected into the human mind by the devil, the father of lies, as Mr. Sandeman supposes; but for which, we should naturally love God, be perfectly pleased with his character, and from our childhood grow up truly friendly to him. And if either of these be true, then,
2. In order to our reconciliation to God, we need not to be born again; we need no change of nature; we only need to believe that God is become our friend ; and so we may be reconciled to God by this belief; for it is an old maxim, Remove the cause and the effect will cease. And in this view the old Antinomian scheme, relative to total depravity and regeneration, is consistent. This faith, therefore, is the first act; and by this faith we are regenerated ; that is, a belief of God's love to us removes the grounds of our enmity to him, and begets love, repentance, and every Christiau grace.
Mr. Sandeman's scheme, which is nothing else than the old Antinomian scheme refined, and dressed up in a new attire, teaches, that the truth to be believed in justifying faith, is, " that there is forgiveness with God through the atonement for impenitent sinners." A belief of this begets hope, and love, and repentance, and every Christian grace. For on his scheme, forgiveness takes place before repentance, as it does necessarily on the Antinomian scheme, whatever shape it assumes. this scheme, as our enmity against God arises from conceiving God to be our enemy, so our love arises from conceiving God to be our friend; and therefore we must first of all conceive God to be our friend, before love can exist; and so before repentance can exist; and so justification must necessarily take place before repentance. This is a difficulty which neither the more ancient nor the later Antinomian writers know how to get rid of.
And thus faith, even that faith by which we are justified, takes place, in order of nature, before regeneration; for it is the cause of it. But the cause, in order of nature, is always intended in the text; and the sense is, The carnal mind is contrariety to the holy nature of God, as appears from this, that it is not subject to that law, which is a transcript of God's moral character, neither indeed can be, which proves the contraricty to be total, and fixed. And as the tree, such is the fruit; so then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God; for God cannot be pleased with what is contrary to his own holy nature; and therefore, upon the whole, to be carnally minded, is death, which was the point to be proved. (See Rom. viii. 6-9.) VOL. II.