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the law's demands, or vindicate the wisdom of God in the death of his Son ?
From the cross, where an incarnate God asserted the rights of the Godhead by his dying pains, let us pass to the awful tribunal; where the same incarnate God, arrayed in all his Father's glory, with all the hosts of heaven in his train, by the last sentence, which he will pronounce upon his Father's enemies, dooming them to the burning lake, to welter for eternal ages in wo, will still proclaim the justice of the law : Would infinite goodness, would our compassionate Saviour, would he who wept over Jerusalem, the kind and tender-hearted Jesus, love to pronounce a sentence so infinitely dreadful, if it were not strictly just ? Yet he will do it, without the least reluctance; yea, with the highest pleasure : while angels and saints shout forth their hallelujahs, all around him,
But can this ever be accounted for, on any other hypothesis, than that the infinitely glorious MONARCH of the universe appears, clearly appears, in that solemn bour, to be infinitely worthy of all that love and honour his law required, in being what he is; and so sin an infinite evil?
If sin is really an infinite evil, then it is meet that it should be discountenanced and punished as such, i. e. with an infi. nite punishment, i. e. with the eternal paips of hell. And it was fit, that the governor of the world should make a law, thus to punish it. And fit, that this law should be magnified and made honourable. And even wise, in the eyes of infinite wisdom, that one by nature God, should become incarnate, and die in the sinner's stead, rather than set the law aside. And on this hypothesis, the final doom of the wicked may well appear perfectly beautiful in the eyes of all holy intelligences. But sin cannot be an infinite evil, unless we are under infinite obligations to do otherwise.
Love is the thing required. Not merely a love of gratitude to God, as an almighty benefactor: but a love of esteem, complacence, and delight. We may feel grateful to a benefactor, merely as such, without even a knowledge of his ges neral character: yea, when his general character would not nit us, did we know it. The Israelites, notwithstanding their
and gratitude at the side of the Red sea, were far from a
disposition to be suited, to be pleased, to be enamoured, with such a being as God was. Yea, the more they knew of him, the less they seemed to like him ; so that in less than two years they were for going back to Egypt again. But if we may feel grateful towards God, merely as our almighty benefactor, without the knowledge of his true character; yet esteem, complacence, and delight, suppose his true character known; as that is the object of this kind of love. And what can lay us under infinite obligations to love God, in this sense, but his own infinite AMIABLENESS? Yet the divine law requires us to love God with this kind of love; and that with all our hearts, on pain of eternal damnation for the least defect. And this law was binding on all mankind, previously to a consideration of the gift of Christ to be a Saviour.
While, therefore, the law supposes our obligations to be infinite ; and the death of the Son of God, and the final judgment, give the highest possible proof, that the OMNISCIENT esteems the law exactly right; the infinite dignity, excellency, and glory of the most high God, is hereby set in the strongest point of light.
Take away the infinite amiableness of the Deity, and we, in effect, ungod him : He ceases to be the God Of GLORY; He ceases to be a proper object of this supreme regard, in the eyes of finite intelligences. It is no longer an infinite evil, not to love him; the law is no longer just; the death of Christ is needless; and the whole system of doctrine revealed in the bible, is sapped at the foundation ; nothing remains, to a thinking man, but infidelity.
And yet, dear Aspasio, this was my very case. The infinite amiableness of the Deity, which is the real foundation of all true religion, was wholly left out of the account, in my love and joy, and in all my religious affections. All my love, and joy, and zeal, arose from my faith. And my faith consisted but in believing that Christ, pardon, and heaven were mine. I rejoiced just like the graceless Israelites, in a sense of their great deliverence, and in expectation of soon arriving to the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the glory of all lands. Theirs was a graceless, selfish joy; and so was mine.-Theirs was soon over; and so was mine. Their carcasses finally fell in the wilderness; and, but for the soves reign grace of God, this al so had been my very case.
Oh! my dear Aspasio, whose entertaining pen gains the attention of thousands on both sides the Atlantic, pity the ignorance of benighted souls, and guard them against the dangers, which had well nigh proved the ruin of your own pupil.
THERON TO ASPASIQ,
New-England, April 4, 1759.
MY DEAR ASPASIO, WHILE I view God the Creator, whose almighty word gave existence to the whole system : while I view him as the original author and sole proprietor of the whole universe; whose are all things in heaven and earth; I see the right of government naturally belongs to him. It is meet, that he should be KING in his own world. And he cannot but have a rightful authority over the works of his own hands. While I view him as moral governor of the world, seated at the head of the intelligent creation, on a throne high and lifted up, heaven and earth filled with his glory as the THRICE HOLY ONE; and hear him utter his voice, saying, I AM THE LORD, and BESIDES ME THERE IS NO OTHER God; and hear bim command all the world to love and adore and obey him, on pain of eternal damnation : a spirit of love to his glorious majesty inspires me with joy, and makes me exult, to see him thus exalted, and thus honoured. I love to hear him proclaim his law, a law holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable. I am glad with all my heart, the almighty Monarch of the universe is so engaged, that all his subjects give unto God the glory due unto his name. Ps. xcvi. 8.
His law, his glorious law, which once, enemy to God that I was, appeared like "the laws of Draco," now shines with a beauty all divine. I had almost said, it is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. For indeed it is an exact transcript of his glorious perfections, the very picture of his heart, holy, just, and good. Rom. vii
. 12. When the God of glory dwelt in the Jewish temple, in the pillar of cloud, over the mercy-seat, his law was by his special command deposited in the ark, the very holiest place in the holy of holies, as the dearest choicest treasure. Thus
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as it was, was but just equal to what the law deserved. any sovereign king, the God of glory; and see his inbinne worthiness of supreme love and honour; I feel, that the least disrespect of his glorious majesty is an infinite evil. I pronounce the law in all its rigour, holy, just, and good.
ministration of death and condemnation, it appears glorious, (2 Cor. iii. 7, 8.) and I heartily acquiesce in the
of the sentence, with application to myself. This makes me feel my need of CHRIST, and prepares my heart
home to God, for ever to live to him. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Gal.
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The law, my dear Aspasio, threatens eternal damnation for the very first transgression, for even the least defect. Gal.
. 10. I break the law every moment; and therefore every moment I merit eternal wo. Such an infinite evil is sin. It appeared glorious in the eyes of God, thus to punish sin, when he made his law; it appeared glorious in the eyes of CHRIST, that sin should be thus punished, when he went as a lamb to the altar, and voluntarily stretched himself upon the cross to die in the sinner's room.. And in a clear view of the glory of the God of glory, I see the grounds and reasons of the law; it is holy, just, and good. I see why Christ was so willing to be nailed to the cross in the sinner's stead; to magnify the law and make it honourable. And I have fellowship, a fellow-feeling, with Christ in his sufferings ; and in the temper of my heart, am made conformable to his deuth. Phil. iii. 10. I feel towards God, and law, and sin, in a measure, as he did.
Or, to express all my heart in one nphatical phrase I AM CRUCITIED WITH CHRIST. Gal. , 20. “The law is good, I deserve to die. I lay my neck