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“ unrighteousness with God?” He would not do these things if they were not perfectly just. If they appear unjust to us, it is owing to our ignorance, self-love, low thoughts of God, and favourable thoughts of sin. Nay, so far was God from repealing this law, or abating its strictness, after man's transgression, that he republished it from mount Sinai with awful majesty ; he requires every one, who would escape condemnation at the day of judgment, to condemn himself now for his transgressions of it, and to seek forgiveness from his sovereign mercy: nor would he even thus pardon one sinner, except as his own Son honoured the law, in our stead, by his perfect obedience and death upon the cross. Moreover he gives it into the hand of all believers as a rule of life, a standard of sin and holiness; yea “ writes it in their hearts" by the Holy Spirit. Thus doth the most high God proclaim to the whole world his determination “to “ magnify the law and make it honourable.” And, had we no other evidence of its excellency, this being abundantly sufficient, ought fully to satisfy us ; yea to humble us in the dust for acting so unreasonably as to break it.
May we not, however, ourselves discern the reasonableness of it notwithstanding our partiality in our own cause, and our love of sin ? God is evi
our transgressions of the law; that they who perish are condemned (not only, or principally, because Adam sinned, but) for their own sins; that upon believing in Christ we are delivered from the condemnation of sinners, but are never released from the obedience we owe as creatures ; and that the obligation to obey is enforced on us by most powerful additional motives taken from redemption.
dently the perfection of glory and beauty ;* the pattern and fountain of loveliness: from whom all that is lovely in all creatures is an emanation ; of whom it is a faint resemblance, which hath comparatively“ no glory by reason of the glory that “excelleth.” In himself he is therefore worthy of all admiration, love, and worship. From him we derive our existence, and all that renders our existence comfortable: our obligations therefore to him, as our Creator and Benefactor, are immense: he deserves then our entire and unreserved gratitude. Infinite love and gratitude, though he is worthy of them, his law requires not; because we are not capable of them. Nor does it enjoin the love and service of an angel: because he has not endowed us with angelic capacities. The law runs thus : “ Thou shalt “ love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and “ mind, and soul, and strength.” Its requirements are proportioned, not to his worthiness, but to our capacities. Of this love the man of the slenderest abilities is equally capable with the sublimest genius ; the infant as the aged. In proportion to the superiority or inferiority of capacity, more or less is required: ifit be honestly our all, the law demands no more.
But the law makes no allowance for our disinclination, and indisposition, to love and serve God with our all : because this is that very malignity of heart which renders us abominable in his sight. Every degree of this temper is a degree of enmity against God. The very disposition arises from pride, love of the world, and love of sin ; and, in
Psal. I. 2. “ Out of Zion, the PerFECTION OF BEAUTY, GOD hath shined.
proportion as it prevails, is contempt of God in comparison with the world, sin, and self. It is therefore in itself infinitely unreasonable, totally inexcusable, and the very temper of the devil; who is completely detestable, because completely of this abominable disposition.* When we therefore shew that the law is “ holy, just, and good, because exactly level to our capacities, we mean our natural powers, not our moral dispositions. The want of the former proportionably excuses, the want of the latter proportionably aggravates, every failure of any given degree of service. Man, not having the powers of an angel, is excusable in not performing the services of an angel : but being of an unholy disposition, he is therefore the more inexcusable in any particular act of unholiness; seeing it appears that it was no inadvertency, but the rooted disposition of his heart.
* This disposition is properly original sin, the effect of Adam's transgression. Therefore he, as the root, and we in him, as the branches, lost God's favour and image, and became liable to and fit for destruction. That this disposition is propagated by natural generation cannot reasonably be denied: that it is properly the punishment of Adam's sin, seems capable of scripture proof. If we cannot perceive clearly the justice of this, we must silence our objections thus: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" True penitents read their own character, and see their own picture, in Adam's conduct, and are humbled for original sin, as the fountain of all their actual transgressions. But, as it is always either disputed, neglected, or abused, until the heart be otherwise humbled, I did not think it proper particularly to insist upon it in this discourse.—Whilst some appear to lay an undue stress on Adam's transgression, and speak as if it were the only sin, for which we were condemned, or Christ died : others totally deny and revile the doctrine of the fall; contending that man now is just such a creature, or nearly, with respect to his moral character and dispositions, as God originally created him. But the apostle Paul more than intimates that the image of God consists in “ righteousness and true holiness.” Now we kņow, that God created man“ in his own image:” he also made him“ upright,” and pronounced him “ very good.” The question therefore is, what man now is. If experience and observation prove him to be naturally and universally prone to evil, and averse from good; and if the scripture pronounce him evil, and “ abominable," and “ every imagination of the thoughts of his heart to be only evil continually:" he must be fallen from what he was originally.---Ingratitude, enmity to God, pride, ambition, envy, malice, lust, falsehood, and covetousness, can form no part of the image of a holy God ; or of that“ uprightness" in which man was first made. But he must be very hardy, who should deny them to form part of man's present character. Nor can we suppose the God of truth would first pronounce man
To love and serve God with our all is the substance of the requirements of the law in the first table. And what can be more reasonable ? can there be any difficulty in loving one who is perfectly lovely? being thankful to such a friend, or serving such a master, except what arises from the inexcusable badness of our hearts ? For this we are condemned, for this we ought to condemn ourselves, to abhor ourselves, and “ repent in dust and ashes.”
To love all men with equal estimation and bcnevolence is the substance of the second table : and we need only suppose this law given to our neighbours alone, as the rule of their conduct towards us, in order to perceive its excellency. What lovely, what happy creatures should we be, and what a delightful world would this prove, were all perfectly obedient! None is, or can be, miserable, but the transgressor, or they whom transgressors injure. How excellent this law, which provides for the happiness of the world so completely, that by transgression alone could men become in any degree miserable! Ought we not then to repent of our disobedience, our continual disobedience, and especially of our entire depravity of disposition, which renders us morally incapable of obedience?
very “ good," and afterwards, without any intervening change, so often declare him altogether abominable. How much more does it become our narrow capacities, and proneness to mistake, to rest satisfied with the scriptural account, “ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin :" “ by one man's diso“ bedience many were made sinners :” and to adore the depths which we cannot fathom; than in the pride of philosophy and metaphysics, with such scanty information, to decide upon what we cannot comprehend ; and with daring temerity, to utter such words, as more than seem to be injurious to the divine character !
Let every precept be impartially examined, and these things will appear with still more convincing evidence. For instance : “ Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy.” Is it not highly reasonable that we should devote this portion of our time to him, to whom the whole belongs ? Would not our best interest, in connexion with the glory of God, be promoted by obeying this commandment? “ These things he commands us for our
good.” How unreasonable then our disobedience! What need have we to repent of forgetting and neglecting to hallow the sabbath!
Again, “ Whatsoever ye would that men should “ do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” As we all judge it reasonable that others should thus behave to us; let conscience determine whether we have not done wrong in, and ought not to repent of, transgressing this rule, in our conduct to others. We