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himself, and no one's interest to provide for but his own. But it is far otherwise with a governor, who is a public person, and whose character is identified with the public interest. In all his acts he is bound to respect the public interest, and to adopt those measures which are best calculated to promote and seoure the general good. Virtue is the greatest good, and sin the greatest evil to society. A wise, good and just governor, will, therefore, make a distinction between righteousness and unrighteousness, and will adapt his government in the best possible manner to suppress and prevent the one, and promote the other. In order to this he will enact just laws; and, to give them proper sanctions, will annex promises of rewards to the obedient, and threatenings of punishment to the transgressor. If the interest of society requires this course for the information of its members, and the prevention of crime, we can easily perceive that the governor is not at liberty to depart from it when his subjects have transgressed. If wisdom, goodness and justice required that he should institute this form of government, the same attributes, together with truth after it was instituted, require his adherence to it. Nor could he do otherwise without prostrating his own character and overthrowing his government.
It is true that human governments, which are always imperfect, do sometimes remit the penalty of the law; but never, I believe, upon the broad principle that it would be safe to do it in all cases of penitence.
Suppose after a governor had organized his government and published his laws, he should come to his rebellious subjects, and say : “It is true I have published my laws with high and awful penalties; and it is true also that you have transgressed: yet, notwithstanding I am desirous of adjusting all differences with you; and therefore I propose and require that you repent, and I wilí forgive your rebellion and love you freely-suppose, I say, this dereliction of the law by the governor, what effect would it probably produce upon those who hate him and his government? Would it be adapted to produce repentance of their wickedness, or a confirmation of their enmity and rebellion? Would it be likely to produce obedience to his laws in future, or contempt for his authority? Would it be likely to impress their minds with the evil of rebellion, and the value and importance of subordination, or to destroy the last lingering traces of those sentiments from their breasts? No enlightened mind can hesitate for a moment to pronounce this conduct most preposterous in itself, and as much at variance with the interest of society as with the honour of the governor.
Let these observations be applied to Deity as the moral Governor of the world, only with this difference, that what would be wise, good, just and proper in any degree in an earthly governor,
would be infinitely so in him : and then we have infinite reasons of wisdom, goodness, justice and propriety, against his pardoning sin without an atoning Mediator. For it is evident that, after God had published his law with its penalty, if he would pardon the transgressor, he must provide for his own honour, the security of his government, and the interest of his subjects: and we can have no conception how this could be done, but by providing a substitute for him, who, by suffering in his stead, should secure these ends. The atonement, therefore, goes to secure all the ends of government, (and not the personal interest of Deity) while pardon is offered to the transgressor. The object with God was the recovery of guilty men in a way consistent with good government; the motive leading to this object was his own benevolence; and the medium through which his benevolence was exercised was the atonement. Therefore salvation on the ground of atonement is so far from representing the Father as "inexorable, mercenary and selfish," that it is a display of infinite benevolence. And to this source the scriptures trace it. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
I will close this part of the subject by three remarks.
First. When atonement is represented as the payment of a debt; when we read in the scriptures that Christ hath redeemed us, bought us, &c. this must be understood as an expedient for the consistent display of the mercy of God, and not as the literal payment of a debi.
Secondly. When God is spoken of in the scriptures as being angry, full of wrath, taking vengeance, &c. this language must be understood to signify the certainty and severity, of his righteous punishments, and not as exhibiting a being without love, under the influence of malignant passions.
Thirdly. When we say in our second article, that " Christ truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us;" and when we say he “propitiated Deity,” it is not to be understood of his causing love in the breast of God the Father towards his creatures; but of his magnifying the law and making it honourable, and thus removing all objections, rising out of the divine goveroment, to a display of his mercy and benevolence : or, in one word, he reconciled and propitiated Deity, as the Governor of the world, and not otherwise.
II. I would inquire whether the atonement implies a change in the law under which it was made.
It is the opinion of some that the atonement was made only for the first sin: that the claims of the law of works, originally given to our first parents before the fall, being satisfied by the death of Christ, that law was repealed, and another, called the law of Christ, the Mediator's law, the gospel, &c. was instituted in its stead : and
that for the transgressions of this law no atonement has been made. I will here confine myself to the question concerning the law, and consider atonement for actual sins under the next head.
As it respects the law of works, I trust to make it evident that it has not been repealed or abrogated; that the only difference between this and the law of Christ is the difference of administratration; and that this is the doctrine of the Methodists.
That there is a real difference in the administration of the law since Christ undertook the work of redemption, I admit. Before that event the law was administered without a Mediator, on the ground of man's ability to render the obedience it required; but since the fall, mankind are regarded as sinners, and the law is administered on the ground of atonement, including the new conditions of salvation.
In order to understand this question, we must observe that the law of works is to be regarded in a twofold point of light; first, as a precept or rule and measure of duty; and secondly as a covenant; in which sense it contained the conditions of salvation. In the latter sense it is abrogated; in the former not. In other words, our duty to God remains the same, while the conditions of salvation are changed from perfect, unsinning obedience, to faith in Jesus Christ. Faith also is to be viewed in a twofold point of light; first, as being a commanded duty; and then it belongs to, and is required by, the law; secondly, as being the condition of salvation; in which sense it was instituted by the Mediator, and belongs to the gospel. And indeed every sin against the gospel, is a breach of the law of works; but every sin against the law, is not a breach of gospel conditions.
That all sins against the precepts of the gospel are also sins against the law of works, and condemned by it, will appear thus : the threatening of that law is against all sin, as well as against one, but those are sins; and therefore threatened by that law. The major proposition appears by the recital afterwards; "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” Besides, the penalty of that law is still executed against all such sins, which shows that the law is still in force.
It is nothing against this to say that every particular duty was not specified when the law of works was given. It was enough that the genus of every particular duty was expressed. God reserved to himself the prerogative of adding to his law, without altering the covenant terms; otherwise every new precept would imply a new covenant, and thus there would be a multitude of covenants. We readily perceive that if God should say at any time, "obey my voice in all things," whatever particular duty he might enjoin afterwards, it is included in the first general.command.
Having made these introductory observations, I come to the proof that the law of works has never been repealed.
1. The moral law is the eternal, immutable rule of right, and necessarily requires the entire devotion and uninterrupted obedience of all intelligent creatures. Moral obligation grows out of the relation which rational creatures stand in to their Creator, and can no more be abrogated than that relation can be abrogated. Christ could not, therefore, abolish any part of the moral law, without abolishing the relation between creatures and their Creator. God cannot but require what is due to him from his creatures. Of course it could be no part of the object of our Saviour, in coming into the world, to take away or lessen our obligation to serve God, or in other words, to abrogate the law of God; but to save us from its curse when we had transgressed it.
It is to this point Mr. WESLEY speaks in his sermon entitled “ The law established through faith.” “ The case is not, therefore, as you suppose, that men were once more obliged to obey God, or work the works of the law, than they are now. This is a supposition you cannot make good. The nature of the covenant of grace gives no ground, no encouragement at all, to set aside any instance or degree of obedience, any part or measure of holiness."
2. When the law is contradistinguished from the gospel, grace, or faith, it is not repealed, but established. Thus St. Paul," Dó we then make void the law through faith? God forbid : yea, we establish the law." The moral law must be here understood, as the apostle did make void the ceremonial law, and publicly avowed his doing so. But then it cannot be the Mediator's law as distinct from the law of works; because the Mediator's law includes faith, and the law which is established is distinguished from it. It must therefore be the law of works.
The same is apparent from our Saviour's words; "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle, shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” To understand him as saying here that he did not come to destroy his own law, which, in the order of nature, was consequent upon his coming, would be absurd;. but we have a noble meaning if we understand him to say, it was no part of his object in coming to redeem mankind, to destroy, or do away the law which they had trangressed; but while he delivered them from the curse, to confirm the law, to magnify, and make it honourable. This is the law which St. Paul tells us is holy, just, and good; which convinces us of sin, and brings us to Christ for salvation, which is often distinguished from the gospel, and confirmed throughout the New Testament.
3. It is clearly the law of works which adjudges infants to be sinners, and all mankind to be children of wrath by nature. Rom. v. and Eph. ii. The law of Christ is not that merciless law which pronounces us " sinners” on account of our natural depravity,
and looks with “ wrath” on the helpless condition of our nature; which, for “the offence of one, passes sentence upon all men to condemnation :" but it is that merciful administration of the law which implies a provision by which the "free gift has come upon all men unto justification of life.”
4. That the law of works is in force still is, I think, abundantly evident from the curse which remains upon the earth, upon
man, upon woman, and particularly from the sentence of death which remains upon all mankind. if mankind were delivered from the obligation of the law, so should they be also from the curse of it. The judgments which are abroad in the earth, with the various evils which afflict mankind in this world, flow not from Christ or his law, but are the fruits of transgression, and awarded by the law of works.
(To be continued.)
To the Editors of the Methodist Magazine.
I am requested by the friends of our late venerable brother, the Rev. John HAGERTY, to forward the enclosed memoir for insertion in the Methodist Magazine. Yours very respectfully,
J. SOULE. Baltimore, March 11, 1824.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. JOHN HAGERTY. The Rev. John HAGERTY, the subject of this memoir, was born in Prince George's county, in the province, now state of Maryland, on the 18th day of February, 1747. Very early in life he experienced the sacred drawings of the Holy Spirit, and at the age of twelve
years, such were his desires to serve God, that he said when he read of the sufferings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, his heart would melt into tenderness, and he had so great a desire to serve God, that he often thought, if Christ were then upon the earth, he would leave father and mother, brethren and sisters, and follow him even unto death. When about twenty years of age he had many compunctions of heart on account of sin, and made many fruitless attempts to extricate himself from the snare of the devil, and to enter heartily into the service of his Maker ; but all his promises and resolutions were like the morning cloud or early dew, they vanished away as soon as the sun of temptation arose. In the 23d year of his age, he commenced keeping house with his eldest sister. Here he began to imitate the good examples given him by his parents, and set up family worship night and morning; and although he knew nothing of vital piety, and was entirely ignorant of the way of salvation by Vol. VII.