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thus divine revelation is sapped at the very foundation. For one of the first facts revealed, is in its own nature absolutely impossible, viz. That Adam was created in the image of God. Because, for Adam to love that character of God which was exhibited in that law which Adam was under, was 'inconsistent with the least degree of regard to his own well-being.'- Besides,
6. If it is inconsistent with that regard to our own wellbeing, which we ought to exercise, in our guilty state, to love that character of God; it is equally inconsistent with that regard to our neighbour's well-being, which we ought to exercise. For it is an agreed point, that we ought to love our neighbour as ourselves. And it is as contrary to the law of God' to delight in our neighbour's misery, as in our own. So that,
7. Upless a universal salvation of deyils and damned takes place, it will eternally be 'absolutely inconsistent with that regard which we ought to have to ourselves and to our neighbours, to love the Deity. And therefore, if Mr. M.'s reasoning is just, all holy beings in the intellectual system must join in a general revolt, unless the Deity entirely lays aside his moral character, exhibited in the moral law; and grants a general release to all the damned. And thus,
8. The doctrine of the eternity of hell torments must be given up, or God's moral character is wholly ruined. For it is as bad a piece of conduct in the Deity to damn my neighbour, as it is to damn myself. For my neighbour's welfare is worth as much as my own. And it is as 'contrary to the Jaw' to love my neighbour's misery, as to love my own misery. It never was, therefore, if Mr. M.'s reasoning is just, any part of God's moral character, to be disposed to punish sin with everlasting punishment, as Jesus taught, Mat. xxv. 46. And so Jesus was not the Christ. Or else the Socinians are right, and we must join with them, and say, that God never did think, 1. That he was God, i. e. an infinitely glorious and amiable being, infinitely worthy of the supreme love and universal obedience of his rational creatures. Or, 2. That sin was an infinite evil. Or, 3. That sin did deserve an infiwite punishment. Nor, 4. Did he ever intend to punish i
with ererlasting punishment. And, 5. If sin is not an infinite evil, an infinite atonement never was needed, or made. And
6. Our Saviour is not God. And thus a denial of the divinity of God the Father, issues in the denial of the divinity of God the Son. And having framed in our fancy a God to suit our hearts, the Holy Ghost, as a sanctifier, becomes need. less. For we can love this God, without any new principle of grace. And thus, if Mr. M.'s reasoning is just, and if we will pursue it, in its necessary consequences, we are Socinians, or infidels : and the odds between Socinianism and infidelity is not great.
Thus the difficulty is stated. And the answer to it is as follows:
This must be admitted, as a self-evident maxim, that that regard to the welfare of ourselves and of our neighbours, which is inconsistent with the love of God's moral character, is of the nature of opposition to God. But opposition to the moral character of God is not a duty, but a sin. That selflove, therefore, which is absolutely inconsistent with the love of God,' is criminal. And therefore it was so far from being essential to moral agency'in innocent Adam, that it did not belong to, but was inconsistent with his character. He loved happiness, but he placed his chief happiness in God's glory : of whom, and by whom, and to whom, are all things ; to whom be glory for ever. Nor had he any separate interest of his own, independent of God, and in opposition to his honour and glory, nor the least degree of a selfish spirit. For himself, his soul and body, bis all, was offered up as a living sacrifice to God, without reserve. And it was no more inconsistent with Adam's love of happiness to love God for saying, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die ; than it was inconsistent with God's goodness, for God to love his own character exhibited in this threatening. It is in its own nature, and by the consent of all mankind, perfectly consistent, to give up and sacrifice a lesser good to a greater, if the greater can be secured in no other way: while yet at the same time, the lesser good, which is given up, is valued according to its worth. If God acted a consistent part in exercising a greater regard to his own honour than to Adam's welfare, in giving
out that threatening, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, then it was equally consistent in Adam to be affected as his Maker was. If the Deity was consistent with himself, then Adam, who was created in his image, was consistent also. If the holiness and justice of the divine nature, exhibited in that threatening, were perfect in beauty, without a blemish in the eyes of infinite goodness, they must likewise appear so in Adam's eyes, while he had no other kind of regard for his own welfare, than had his Creator. That is, so long as he continued to be in the image of God. And if love to God and to his own happiness were originally consistent in Adam, when in the image of God, they may be equally consistent in
any of Adam's sons, who are anew restored to that image of God which Adam lost. And the holiness and justice of the divine nature, as exhibited in the divine law, may appear to be perfect in beauty, with application to ourselves ; and God appear to be infinitely lovely, in his disposition to punish sin according to its deserts; and yet our own eternal welfare be at the same time prized according to its worth, and the salvation of the Gospel appear infinitely precious, and the fruit of grace infinitely great and absolutely free ; and the Gospel way of salvation worthy of God. But were not the divine character exhibited in the divine law perfect in beauty, without a blemish, it ought to have been laid aside in disgrace, and not honoured with the highest honours on
If to love God is the same thing as to love misery,' if to love God is contrary to the law of God, then that law which requires this, is an absurd, inconsistent, tyrannical law, not worthy of God, nor worthy to be honoured by the blood of his own Son. For a more large and particular view of this subject the reader is referred to my Essay on the Gospel. sect. vi.
Mr. M.'s reasoning implies, that in Adam before the fall, there was really no principle of holiness, no disinterested regard to the Deity: and that his whole soul was under the government of self-love, even the same principle of selflove' which governed him after the fall. And therefore, as soon as God's favour was lost, and he exposed to destruction, this favourite principle of self-love became 'inconsistent with
the love of God,' and continues to be so, until God appears 10 be our friend again. And so Adaın had no 'principle of holiness' to lose, nor is there any such thing for us to expect.
Mr. M. says, p. 48. · But when we inquire of them what they mean by this new principle which is implanted in the soul by regeneration, they can give no account about it.' Yes, we can give as distinct an account about it, as we can of a principle of self-love.' It is that image of God in which Adam was created, restored anew. It is true, that in Adam this holy principle was not a confirmed habit, but liable to be lost by the first sin; but in believers who are united to the second Adam, the principle of grace' is a confirmed habit, and shall never be lost. It becomes confirmed in consequence of the first act of saving faith. Eph. i. 13, 14h. But
h As Adam was created in the image of God to prepare him for holy acts and exercises of heart ; so the same image of God is restored in regeneration to prepare us for the first holy act. As there was a holy principle in Adam before the first holy act; so there is a holy principle in the regenerate sinner before the first holy act. And, as Adam's holy principle was not a confirmed habit in its first existence, but was to have been confirmed on his acting up to the covenant he was under; so the holy principle given in regeneration is not a confirmed habit in its first existence, but immediately becomes confirmed as soon as the regenerate sinner complies with the covenant of grace in the first act of saving faith. And thus, as Adam would have been entitled to eternal life on his com. pliance with the covenant of works; so the regenerate sinner is entitled to eternal life on his compliance with the covenant of grace. For a confirmed habit of grace is eternal life, i. e. life never to end ; life everlasting. John v. 24. He that believeth hath everlasting life. Hence the promises of the Gospel are not made to the holy principle, passively considered, but to its acts and exercises ; even as the blessings of the first covenant were not promised to that image of God, in which Adam began to exist, but to his active compliance with that cove
And thus, that faith, by which we are married to Christ, is not an unre. generate, sinful act; but as our catechism expresses it, ' a saving grace.' But if faith is before regeneration, the act of a sinner, dead in sin, “ totally depraved,' it is not a saving GRACE ;' but a saving sin. Or else it is not an act, but a mere passive thing, and implies no consent of will.
• Question. But here it may be doubted, and objected against this position, If we cannot believe till we are quickened with spiritual life, as you say, and cannot be justified till we believe, as all say, then it will follow, that a regenerate soul may be in 'a state of condemnation for a time, and consequently perish, if death should befall him in that juncture. Thus Mr. Flavel states the objection, and thus he answers it.
• Solution. To this I return; that when we speak of the priority of this quickening work of the spirit to our actual believing, we rather understand it of
its nature is the same. For there is but one kind of true holiness in the universe. For the holiness of Christ is of the same nature with the holiness of God the Father Christ is the express image of his Father; and of his fulness we receive, and grace for grace. In regeneration, therefore, we are restored anew to that image of God, in which Adam was created. So that this principle of grace'is that whereby we are inclined to a disinterested supreme regard to the Deity, an infinitely worthy Being; and so disposed to love that character of him exhibited in his law in which his infinite dignity is asserted, in the threatening of an infinite punishment for sin. Even as self-love is that principle' whereby a fallen creature is inclined to a supreme regard to himself, and to his own honour and interest, separate from, independent of, and unsubordinate to, God and his glory. Which self-love is in kind, different from that love of happiness which is essential to every holy being. The one is contrary to the holiness of the divine nature, and the source of all our enmity against the Deity. The other is in perfect harmony with the divine nature, and consistent with the perfect love of the holiness and justice of God, as exbibited in bis law.
Mr. M. says, (p. 48.) . But if this be true, that there must be a gracious principle implanted in the heart of a sinner, before he is capable of any gracious acts; then for the same reason, there must be a corrupt principle implanted in the heart of a holy creature, (Adam, for instance,) before he is capable of any sinful acts.' The Scripture teaches us, that God created man in his own image, whereby he was prepared to holy acts and exercises : but the Scripture does not teach us, that God afterwards created man in the image of the devil,
the priority of nature, than of time, the nature and order of the work requiring it to be so; a vital principle must, in order of nature, be infused, before a vital act can be exerted. First make the tree good, and then the fruit good : And admit we should grant some priority in time also to this quickening principle, before actual faith ; yet the absurdity mentioned would be no way consequent upon this concession ; for as the vital act of faith quickly follows the regencrating principle, so the soul is abundantly secured against the danger objected ; God never beginning any special work of grace upon the soul, and then leaving it, and the soul with it, in hazard; but preserves both to the finishing and compicting of his gracious design. Mr. Flavel's method of grace, Sermon 5.