« PreviousContinue »
by it appeared, that he was unchangeably determined to punish sin according to its desert, and execute the curse of his righteous law, although his own dear Son, standing in the room of a guilty world, was the persou to be made a curse.
And it was a glorious display of divine goodness ; for if the divine law was so holy, just, and good, so exactly in the image of the Deity, as to be worthy of all this honour ; then, to a demonstration, God was wholly right, and our disaffection and rebellion entirely groundless ; yea, infinitely criminal. And therefore mankind were not pitied as having been too severely dealt with. And while the death of Christ declares the justice of the law, and the righteousness of God in our condemnation, the gift of Christ to die in our stead, appears to be an act of grace, infinitely great, and absolutely free.
And while the Son of God stands clothed in human nature, and voluntarily appears as our representative, to die in our stead, as our second Adam, God appears to be a God of truth. For the criminal dies virtually in his surety. And thus the law is honoured, sin discountenanced, the sinner saved, grace glorified, and satan disappointed, all at once. And thus all the divine perfections are displayed on the cross of Christ. And thus the Gospel is a glorious Gospel. But all this only on supposition the law was a glorious law.--For,
Let it once be supposed, that the divine law, which required sinless perfectiou on pain of eternal damnation of all mankind, is in its own nature too severe, and it will inevitably follow, (heaven forbid the blasphemy !) that Christ in bearing the curse of this law in our stead, died a sacrifice to tyranny : and so the Gospel, instead of being a glorious Gospel, a glorious display of the wisdom, holiness, justice, and goodness of the divine nature, exhibits to view the most shocking scene that can possibly be conceived of : foolishness in the abstract.
But if the law was holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable, and worthy to be so magnified and made honourable, and if the law be thus viewed and considered; at once the atonement of Christ becoines the wisdom of God and the power of God, the wisest and the most effectual method to answer the most glorious ends. And thus the cross of Christ will appear foolishness, or wisdom, according to the light in which we view it. As it is written, (1 Cor. i. 23, 24.) We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness : But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. · Thus we have taken a general view of the nature and glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the way being thus prepared, we proceed to take things into a more particular consideration in the following sections.
The Divine law holy, just, and good, a glorious law antece
dent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, and the work of redemption by him.
IF the moral character of the deity, which consists in holiness, justice, and goodness, is glorious and amiable; and if the divine law is after his own image, a transcript of his nature, holy, just, and good, it must be glorious and amiable too. And that the divine law is holy, just, and good, the, apostle Paul expressly affirms in the seventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans, ver. 12. · Would we know what law the apostle speaks of in that verse, let us read through that epistle, and his epistle to the Galatians, in which he is speaking of the same law; and we shall find these things said of it. It is that law which the Jews had written in a book, and the Gentiles written in their consciences. It revealed the wrath of God, from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. By this law is the knowledge of sin. It requires us to continue in all things in it to do them. It promises, that the man thut doth the things contained in it shall live. But curses every one that continueth not in all things. And according to it, both Jews and
Greeks are under sin ; every mouth is stopped, and the whole · world stand guilty before God: each one without excuse.
Rom. i. 18, 21. Chap. ij. 14. Chap. iii. 9. 20. Chap. vii.
17. 12. Chap. x. 5. Gal. iii. 10. 12. And from the whole tenour of divine revelation we learn, that it requires us to love God with all our heart, and yield a perfect and persevering obedience to his will, on pain of eternal death.
That this law, with respect to mankind in their present state, is holy, just, and good, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ and the work of redemplion by him, is certain from two indisputable facts.
First Fact. That all mankind, in their natural state, are by God, the judge of all the earth, considered as under it, and held bound by it. That this is the case, is plain. For, we cannot be guilty before God for the breach of a law, which in his sight we are not under. But for the breach of this law, the whole world stand guilty before God: therefore the whole world, in the sight of God, are under the law. Rom iii. 19. No man can be entitled to life by obeying a law which he is not under. But whosoever obeys this law is expressly entitled to life; therefore every man is under it. Rom. x. 5. No man is liable in the sight of God to the curse or penalty of a law which he is not held bound by. But God declares, that every Christless sinner is actually under the curse of the law; therefore every Christless sinner is held bound by it. Gal. iii. 10. John iïi. 18. 36. Thus the fact is plain, that all mankind, in their natural state, are, by God the Judge of all the earth, considered as under it, and held bound by it. But from the absolute perfection of the divine nature, we may be certain that the Judge of all the earth cannot but do right. It is inconsistent with the holiness, justice, and goodness of his nature, and therefore morally impossible he should hold his creatures bound by a law, unless it were holy, just, and good. This law is therefore holy, just, and good. · Second FACT. That God has given his own Son, to be made a curse to redeem us from the curse of this law. But it had been inconsistent with every one of the divine perfections, to have given his Son to be made a curse, to redeem us from the curse of a law, which in justice we could not have been held bound by, if Christ had never died.
Whoever will think of this, and thoroughly weigh it in his mind, will feel himself obliged, either to acknowledge the law to be holy, just, and good, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ ; or to give up law and Gospel both together. For God's giving his Son to die, to redeem us from the curse of the law, is the greatest proof of its goodness, which could possibly have been given by the Father or Son. The fact must be denied, therefore, or the consequence must be granted. We must say, that Christ was not made a curse to redeem us from the curse of the law, or we must grant the law was good; for, to say that God the Father gave his Son, to be made a curse, to redeem us from the curse of a bad law, is worse than infidelity ; nay, worse than downright atheism. For, to believe that God is an Almighty tyrant, that would put his creatures under an uprighteous law, and then appoint his Son to bear its curse in their room, is worse than to believe there is no God at all. The goodness of the divine law must be granted, therefore, or we shall find no where to stop on this side infidelity. But I mean, at present, to reason only with those who grant the Scriptures to be the word of God. And to these, I presume, the argument must be conclusive. But,
1. If the divine law is holy, just, and good, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, and work of redemption by him ; then the divine law is a glorious and amiable law, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, and work of redemption by him. For, if holiness, justice, and goodness, are glorious and amiable attributes, as they are in God, the original; then they are glorious and amiable attributes, as they are in the divine law, which is his image, and a transcript of his nature. If the original is lovely, the image is lovely also. To say otherwise, plainly implies a contradiction. Besides, if holiness, justice, and goodness, are not glorious and amiable properties, then God himself is not a glorious and amiable being. And if God is not a glorious and amiable being, he ought not to be viewed and loved as such. Which to say, is to overthrow natural and revealed religion both at once. There is no consistent medium, therefore, between renouncing all religion, and granting the divine law to be glorious and amiable, antecedent to a consideration of che gift of Christ, and work of redemption by him.--But,
2. If the divine law is a holy, just, good, and glorious law, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ ; then it anust of necessity appear such, to every one whose eves are opened, to see it as it is : that is, to every one that is not spiritually blind. For if it is in fact a glorious law, in itself, it must appear so to every one who sees it as it is; and it must begin to appear so as soon as it begins to be seen as it is. And he that does not so much as begin to see the divine law as it is, is evidently altogether spiritually blind. God has not as yet begun to open his eyes, but the vail is still all over his heart; and enmity to God and his law has full possession of his soul 9.
To say, “That it is impossible the law should appear glorious to me, before I believe myself delivered from its curse," is either to say, that the law, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, was not a glorious law, or else, that a man whose eyes are opened, cannot possibly see it to be what it is. But if it was not a glorious law, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ, it is certain Christ never would have been given to redeem us from its curse. And if men do not see it to be what it is, it is certain they are blind; for this is the very thing that is meant by blindness in this case.
The truth is, those who view the law as being glorious, on
9 These four points must be insisted on : 1st. That the divine law is holy, just, good, and glorious, antecedent to a consideration of the gift of Christ. 20. That it is seen to be such by every enlightened soul. 3d. That in this view Christ crucified, is seen to be the wisdom of God. 4th. That without this view, the wisdom of God in the death of his Son cannot be seen. But whether the glory of the law is seen, in order of time, before the glory of the atonement, need not be insisted on. If things are seen in their true nature, and in their true arrangement, it matters not whether they come into view gradually or instantaneously. They may, in some instances, come into view gradually, and very distinctly; and in some, as it were, instantaneously, and less distinctly. Some may have a greater degree of spiritual light at first, and others a less degree. Some may have a distinct remembrance of their views and exercises, and others not. It matters not as to these things ; if men do but know, and love, and obey the truth in sincerity, they are Christians. But if the truth is hated and opposed, and eirors substituted in its room ; if the divine law be denied to be glorious ; if it fills me with hatred and heart-risings; if my heart-risings are allayed merely in a belief that I am delivered from the curse ; if this belief is the only ground of my love and joy, and of al} my religion, I am not a Christian ; I am an Antinomian ; an enemy to the divine law, and to the cross of Christ. VOL. II.