Page images
[ocr errors]

62 THE CONDITIONS OF THE ... [book 1.

most than one could well expect from a heathen, is what Hier-
ocles says on Pythagoras' golden verses: “To obey right
reason and God is one and the same thing. For the rational
nature being illuminated, readily embraces what the divine law
rescribes. A soul which is conformed to God, mever dissents
#. the will of God, but being attentive to the divinity and
brightness, with which it is enlightened, does which it does."
4thly. Nor can it be affirmed, that after the breach of love, or,
which is the same thing, after the entrance of sin, that then it
was the law was superadded; seeing sin itself is arozia the trans-
f." of the law. 5thly. Nor is love rendered less voluntary
y the precept. For, the law enjoins love to be every way
perfect, and therefore to be most voluntary, not extorted by the
servile fear of the threatening, 1 John iv. 18. Nor does he
give satisfaction, when he says, that what is called love, scarce
deserves that name, unless voluntary; he ought to say, is by
no means charity, unless voluntary. For love is the most de-
lightful union of our will with the thing beloved; which cannot
be so much as conceived, without the plainest contradiction,
any other than voluntary. If therefore, by the superadded
law, love is rendered involuntary and forced, the whole nature
of love is destroyed, and a divine law set up, which ruins love.
6thly. In fine, the law of nature itself was not without a threat-
ening, and that of etermal death. I shall conclude in the most
accurate words of Chrysostom, Homil. 12 to the le of An-
tioch; “when God formed man at first, he gave him a natural
law. And what then is this natural law P He rectified our con-
science, and made us have the knowledge of good and evil,
without any other teaching than our own.”
VII. It is, moreover, to be observed, that this law of na-
ture is the same in substance with the decalogue; being what
the apostle calls, rnv amoxny "my soony, a commandment which
was ordained to life, Rom. vii. 10. that is, that law by the
performance of which, life was formerly obtainable. And
indeed, the decalogue contains such precepts, “which if a
man do he shall live in them,” Lev. xviii. 5. But those pre-
cepts are undoubtedly the law proposed to Adam, upon which
the covenant of works was built. Add to this, what the
apostle says, that that law, which still continues to be the rule
of our actions, and whose righteousness ought to be fulfilled
in us, was made weak through the flesh, that is, through sin,
and that it was become impossible for it to bring us to life,
Rom. viii. 3, 4. The same law therefore was in force before
the entrance of sin, and, if duly observed, had the power of
giving life. Besides, God in the second creation inscribes the

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]


same law on the heart, which in the first creation he had engraven on the soul. For, what is regeneration, but the restitution of the same image of God in which man was at first created In fine, the law of nature could be nothing but a precept of conformity to God, and of perfect love; which is the same in the . e. in VIII. This law is deduced by infallible consequence fro the very nature of God and man, which I thus explain and prove. I presuppose, as a self-evident truth, and clear from the very meaning of the words, that the great God has a sovereign and uncontrolable power and dominion over all his creatures. This authority is founded primarily and radically, not on creation, nor on any contract entered into with o: creature, nor on the sin of the creature, as some less solidly maintain; but on the majesty, supremacy, sovereignty, and eminence of God, which are his essential attributes, and would have been in God, though no creature had actually existed; though we now conceive them as having a certain respect to creatures that do or at least might exist. From this majesty of the divine nature the prophet Jeremiah, x. 6, 7, infers the duty of the creature. “For as much as there is none like unto thee, O Lord, thou art great, and thy name is great in might, who would not fear thee, O king of nations, for to thee doth it appertain.” For if God is the prime, the supreme, the supereminent; it necessarily follows that all creatures do in every respect depend on that prime, supreme, and the supereminent God, for existence, power, and operation. This is of the essence of creatures, which if not entirely dependent, were not possible to be conceived without the most evident contradiction. But the more degrees of entity there are in any creature, the more degrees also of dependance on the Supreme Being are to be attributed to it. In the rational creature, besides a metaphysical and physical entity, which it has in common with the rest of the creatures, there is a certain more perfect degree of entity, namely, rationality. . As, therefore in quality of a being it depends on God, as the Supreme Being; so ... as rational, on God, as the supreme reason, which it is bound to express, and be conformable to...And as God, as long as he wills any creature to exist, he necessarily wills it to be dependent on his real providence (otherwise he would renounce his own supremacy by transferring it to the creature;) so, likewise, if he wills any rational creature to exist, he necessarily wills it to be dependent on his moral providence; otherwise he would o imself to be the supreme reason, to whose pattern and idea every dependent

[ocr errors]

64 THE conD1Tion of Trie [book 1.

reason ought to conform. And thus a rational creature would
be to itself the prime reason, that is, really God; which is an
evident contradiction.' * * * * * -
IX. It is in vain therefore, that frantic enthusiasts insist,
that the utmost pitch, of holiness consists in being without
law; wresting the saying of the apostle, 1 Tim. i. 9, the law
is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and dis-
obedient. Certainly that does not destroy our asser-
tion, by which we evinced that the human nature cannot be
without the divine law; but highly confirms it. For, since
the ungodly are here described as lawless, who would fain

[ocr errors]

live as without law; and disobedient, who will not be in sub

jection: it follows, that the acknowledging the divine law,
and the subjection of the understanding and will to it, is the
character of the righteous and the godly. In the law of God,
since the entrance of sin, we are to consider two things. 1st.
The rule and direction to submission. 2dly. The power of
bridling and restraining by terror and fear, and lastly, of justly
condemning. When therefore the apostle declares, that the
law was not made for a righteous man, he does not understand
it of the primary and principal work of the law, which is essen-
tial to it, but of that other accidental work, which was added
to it on account of, ard since the entrance of sin, and from
which the righteous are freed by Christ. * *
X. Nor does it only follow from the nature of God; and of
man, that some law is to be prescribed by God to man in
common, but even such a law, as may be not only the rule
and guide of human actions, but of human nature itself, con-
sidered as rational. For, since God himself is in his nature
infinitely holy, and manifests this his holiness in all his works;
it hence follows, that to man, who ought to be conformed to
the likeness of the divine holiness, there should be prescribed
a law, requiring not only the righteousness of his works, but
the holiness of his nature; so that the righteousness of his
works is no other than the expression of his inward righte-
ousness. Indeed the apostle calls that piety and holiness,"
which he recommends, and which undoubtedly the law en-
joins, the image of God, Col. iii. 10. But the image should
resemble its original. Seeing God therefore is holy in his
nature, on that very account it follows, that men should be
S0 too. -
XI. A certain author therefore has advanced with more

* N. B. I suppose there is here an error of the press; because it is in Eph. iv. 24. that the new man is said to be after God created in righteousness and true holiness.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

chap. iii.] COVENANT OF WORKS. *65
* -

subtilty than truth: that the law obliges the person only to
active righteousness, but not the nature itself to intrinsic ree-
titude; and consequently, that original righteousness is ap-
proved indeed, but not commanded by the law; and on the

contrary also, that original unrighteousness is condemned, but

not forbidden by the law. For the law approves of nothing

which it did not command, condemns, nothing which it did not

forbid. The law is nonn, the doctrine of right and wrong.
What it teaches to be evil, that it forbids; what to be good, it
commands. And therefore it is deservedly called the law of
nature; not only because mature can make it known; but also
because it is the rule of nature itself - -
XII. To conclude, we are to observe of this law of mature,
that at least its principal and most universal precepts are
founded not in the mere arbitrary good will and pleasure of
God, but in his unspotted nature. For if it is necessary that
God should therefore prescribe a law for man, because him-
self is the original holiness; no less necessary is it, he should
prescribe a law, which shall be the copy of that original.. So
that the difference between good and evil, ought to be derived
not from any positive law, or arbitrary constitution of the
divine will, but from the most holy nature of God himself;
which I thus prove:
XIII. Let us take the summary of the first table; Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Keart, &c. Should
this command be said to be founded in the arbitrary good
pleasure of the divine will, and not in the very nature of God;
it may with equal propriety be said, that God might dispense
with the necessity of loving himself. A thing entirely im-
possible, as appears hence: it is natural to God to be the
chief good; it is included in the motion of God, that he is the
very best. Now it is natural to the chief good, to be su-
premely amiable; it is natural also to reason and will to be
unable, without a crime, not to lové, what is ised as
worthy of the highest affection. Whoever therefore shall
affirm, that the necessity of loving God, flows not from the
very nature of God, advances the following contradiction:
God is in his nature the chief good, and yet in his nature not
supremely amiable. Or this other; God is worthy of the
ighest love; and yet it is possible, that he who loves him
not does nothing unworthy of God. - - -
XIV. But to proceed; if the command to love God is
founded, not in his nature, but in his arbitrary good pleasure;
he might have enjoined the hatred of himself. For, in things.
in their own nature indifferent, whoever has the right of
WOL. I. 18 *

[ocr errors]

* ** ***



commanding, has also that of forbidding, and of requirin the : To assert, that God can £o d.o. of himself, not only conveys a sound, grating on the ear, but labours under a manifest contradiction; as will appear from a proper explication of the terms. God, the chief good, supremely amiable, are terms equivalent; at least, the last is an explication of the preceding. To hate, is to esteem a thing not the chief good, nay, not so much as any good at all, and therefore so far from loving it, we are averse from it. . . Would it, not therefore be a manifest contradiction,

should any one o the great and good God thus speaking and

to his creature: really the chief good, but my will is, not to be esteemed a good in any respect: I, indeed, am

worthy of the highest love, but it is my will, that you deem

me worthy of your hatred. A man must be blind who sees
not a contradiction here.
XV. Moreover, I would ask those, if any are otherwise
minded, whether it is not naturally good, even antecedently
to any free determination of the divine will, to obey God
when he commands anything. . If they own this, we have
gained our o: if not, I ask further, whence then the obli-
gation to obey P. They cannot say, it is from any command.
For, the question is, What binds me to obey that command?
Here we must necessarily come to that sovereign majesty
and supreme authority of God, to whom it is a crime in na-
ture to refuse obedience. Again, if not to obey God is good
in nature, then, it follows, God can command, that none may
obey him. A proposition not only inconsiderate, but also
contradictory. For, to command, is to bind one to obedience.
To say, Obey not, is to dispense with the bond of obligation.
It is therefore most contradictory to say, I command, but do
not obey. -
XVI. What we have proved concerning the love of God,
the summary of the first table of the law; namely, that it is
good in nature, might be also proved from the summary of
the second table, the love of our neighbour. For, he who
loves God, cannot but love his image too, in which he clearly
views ess characters of the Deity, and not a small degree
of the brightness of his glory. Again, whoever loves God,
will, by virtue of that love, seriously wish, desire, study, and
as much as in him lies, be careful, that his neighbour, as well
as himself, be under God, in God, and for God, and all he has,
be for his glory. Again, whoever loves God, will make it
his business, that God may appear every way admirable and
glorious; and as he appears such most eminently in the sanc-

« PreviousContinue »